U.S. News
Headlines 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ice storm glazes U.S. Midwest

A thick glaze of ice brought down power lines and cut electricity to close to a million homes and businesses, closed schools and cancelled flights yesterday as a major storm blasted the midsection of the United States.

At least 23 deaths had been blamed on the storm system since the waves of sleet and freezing rain started during the weekend.

Officials in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma had declared states of emergency. President George W. Bush declared an emergency in Oklahoma yesterday, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts.

A shell of ice as much as 2.5-cm thick covered trees, power lines, streets and car windshields Monday in parts of Oklahoma and Missouri, with thinner layers elsewhere.

About the same amount of ice was expected yesterday over parts of Iowa, followed by up to 13 cm of sleet and snow.

"This is a big one. We've got a massive situation here and it's probably going to be a week to 10 days before we get power on to everybody," said a spokesman for Public Service Company of Oklahoma. "It looks like a war zone."

Nearly 600,000 Oklahoma homes and businesses still had no electricity yesterday.

Utilities in Missouri reported about 170,000 homes and businesses without power. Outages elsewhere affected more than 100,000 customers in Kansas, more than 60,000 in Iowa and nearly 18,000 in Illinois.

Des Moines International Airport closed because of ice late Monday and most of yesterday. More travellers were grounded at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, where about 250 flights were cancelled yesterday morning.

At least 23 deaths - most of them in traffic accidents - had been blamed on the ice and cold since the weekend, including 15 in Oklahoma, four in Kansas, three in Missouri and one in Nebraska.

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