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Some schools close in anticipation of heavy storm

A snow removal service clears about 4-inches from driveway home DraytCourt Yorkville Friday morning February 22 2013 after largest snowfall

A snow removal service clears about 4-inches from the driveway of a home on Drayton Court in Yorkville Friday morning, February 22, 2013 after the largest snowfall of the season. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 22, 2013 10:47AM

Some schools in northern Kane County and parts of McHenry County closed Friday in anticipation of a winter storm that threatened to drop up to 6 inches of snow across the Chicago area.

The wallop was not that hard.

The deepest snow fell in Woodstock in McHenry County, where they were digging out under a soggy blanket of 5 inches, a weather service meteorologist said. Crown Point, Ind., also got hit hard, with about 4 inches.

The official total for Chicago was 2.7 inches of snow that equaled the heaviest snowfall of the season in an unusually dry winter. A National Weather Service winter weather advisory is still in effect until 6 p.m. Friday.

The snow, windblown in places, tapered off Friday morning, with no more snow expected until at least Tuesday or Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm socked parts of the Midwest with blinding snow, at times accompanied by thunder and lightning, bombarding much of the nation’s midsection Thursday, causing whiteout conditions, making major roadways all but impassable and shutting down schools and state legislatures.

Kansas was the epicenter of the winter storm, with parts of Wichita buried under 14 inches of powdery snow. Topeka got 3 inches of snow in one 30-minute period, leaving medical center worker Jennifer Carlock to dread the drive home.

“It came on fast,” Carlock said as she shoveled around her car. “We’re going to test out traction control on the way home.”

Snow totals passed the foot mark in many places: Monarch Pass, Colo., had 171/2 inches, Hutchinson, Kan., 14 inches and Wichita, Kan., 13 inches. A few places in far northern Oklahoma saw between 10 to 131/2 inches of snow. The National Weather Service said up to 18 inches of snow were possible in central Kansas.

Most schools in Kansas and Missouri, and many in neighboring states, were closed. Legislatures shut down early in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

By midmorning Thursday, the snowfall was so heavy that Kansas City International Airport shut down. About 90 flights were also cancelled at Lambert Airport in St. Louis.

“Thundersnow” accompanied the winter storm in parts of Kansas and Missouri, which National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Truett said is the result of an unstable air mass, much like a thunderstorm.

“Instead of pouring rain, it’s pouring snow,” Truett said. And pouring was a sound description, with snow falling at a rate of 1 1/2 to 2 inches per hour in some spots.

While heavy in nature, the snow itself is powdery, said weather service meteorologist Suzanna Sortin. She said the Wichita area had received between 11 and 13 inches of snow by midmorning, and places like Salina, Russell and Great Bend were expected to get up to 18 inches of snow.

The St. Louis region prepared with some uncertainty. Depending on the temperature and the trajectory of the storm, St. Louis could get snow, freezing rain, ice, sleet or all or some of the above. Crews were hoping to spread enough salt to keep at least the major roadways moving.

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