A stubborn winter storm today spread snow from Texas to the Great Lakes region, burying the Chicago area under its worst snowfall of the season as schools and businesses were closed and Easterners were warned to look out.
Snow that began falling in Chicago early Wednesday was still coming down this afternoon, piling up to seven inches in the city and 10 inches in suburban areas with more on the way.
Morning commuters were faced with snow-packed, slushy and extremely hazardous conditions, while some officials advised against travel unless absolutely necessary.
"If you don't have to go out, don't," said Kirsten Svare, of the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation. "This is a perfect day to stay inside."
Four Traffic Deaths
Authorities said the snowstorm was a factor in at least four traffic deaths Wednesday; two in Missouri and one each in Chicago and Wisconsin.
Hundreds of schools and businesses in the Chicago area were closed today.
The storm spread snow from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee and was expected to crash into the mid-Atlantic Coastal states and Northeast tonight and Friday.
The storm dumped more than 10 inches of snow in Milwaukee, and the flakes continued to fall in southern Wisconsin this afternoon.
Snow fell at a rate of two inches an hour in parts of Indiana, where hundreds more schools were closed.
Arkansas Schools Close
Arkansas was hit with up to 5 inches of snow and many schools were shuttered. The snow also forced the cancellation of thoroughbred racing at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., for the day.
In western Tennessee, a blinding mixture of rain, sleet and snow caused schools to close early, including those in Nashville and Memphis. Snow accumulations of up to two inches were expected in some parts of the state.
Several record low temperatures were set early today, including readings of 35 below at International Falls, Minn., Aberdeen, S.D., and Bismarck, N.D., and minus 31 in Duluth, Minn.