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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A second powerful blizzard in a week roared through parts of the nation's midsection on Wednesday, bringing biting winds and dumping more than a foot of snow on areas still digging out from last week's major storm.
As the system barreled through the Plains toward the Deep South, it blanketed parts of northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas under a new layer of snow.
In Tulsa, where mail, bus, and trash pickup service was only recently restored, 5 inches new snow gave it 25.9 inches for the season, breaking its old seasonal record of 25.6 inches set back in 1923-1924. Last week's record 14-inch snowfall kept students out of school for at least six days and made many roads in the state's second-largest city impassable, and garbage pickup had only just resumed.
Dean Guay, 23, was among about two dozen Greyhound bus passengers who spent the night in a Red Cross shelter in Oklahoma's second-largest city after their bus was forced to abort its cross-country trip due to the storm.
"Everything thing was going fine until Oklahoma, then it went crazy," said Guay, who was travelling from New York to California for a job. He said he hopes to make it out West by Saturday.
Passenger Chris Pletter said he expects it'll be three or four days before he can resume his trip to Arizona, and that he is grateful he was allowed to stay in the shelter set up at the Crosstown Church of Christ.
"I'm glad we're in good hands here, if it wasn't for the Red Cross we'd be on the streets now."
Greyhound spokesman Timothy Stokes said the passengers were given the option of staying at the bus terminal or the shelter, and that they will be picked up to continue the trip when it's safe to travel.
By midmorning Wednesday, the storm had dropped 16 inches on the town of Pawhuska, 14 inches on nearby Eucha and more than a foot on Bartlesville, about 50 miles north of Tulsa.
The snow was worse across the state border in northwestern Arkansas, where nearly every community on that fringe of the Boston Mountains reported at foot or more of snow — blowing away forecasts that had called for only a half-foot.
"It kills business, but looks fantastic," Rob Cork, who runs a Siloam Springs tea room with his wife, Dawn, said of the 18 inches that fell there. Twenty inches fell in nearby Gentry, and 18 inches also fell in Elm Springs.
Cork said he hadn't seen a soul trudging through the knee-high snow Wednesday, and that he kept his business closed because most people around there stay indoors in such weather.
A quaint diner a few blocks away was also closed due to the snow, leaving locals to look elsewhere for their coffee and oatmeal.
"We can't make it in today since the snow is so deep!" the Café on Broadway posted on its website. "If roads get cleared, we might come in this afternoon. Be safe! No cars should be driving in this. You WILL get stuck!"
Transportation authorities throughout the affected region warned drivers to stay off the roads. Last week's blizzard stranded hundreds of drivers on roadways who had to be taken to safety.
Schoolchildren in Kansas got to spend Wednesday building snow forts and shoveling driveways, and several Kansas universities cancelled classes for the day.
By Wednesday morning, 17 inches of snow had fallen in Newton, 15 inches in Coffey and 14 inches in Wilson, the National Weather Service said. As the storm moved out of Kansas, temperatures were expected to drop into the teens in the state, making the coming weekend's forecast of temperatures in the mid-40s seem downright balmy.
In Texas, classes were canceled for students in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Amarillo school districts. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport canceled about 120 departures. Spokesman David Magana says DFW airport anticipated operating a full schedule later Wednesday when conditions were expected to improve.
As the storm moved toward the Deep South, it was expected to dump up to five inches of snow on northwest Mississippi and an inch or less around Atlanta, enough to snarl traffic and cause closures in a region traditionally short of salt trucks and plowing equipment. Winter storm warnings were issued for an area stretching from northern Louisiana to Georgia.
Louisiana officials closed state offices in 26 parishes because sleet and snow were expected to make driving hazardous.