KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The biggest storm of the winter season loped toward New England early Friday after leaving behind a blanket of snow and ice from Texas to New York.
Some Kansas City-area residents were forced to stock up on flashlights and cooking gas as they bundled up for a cold night without power, or heat, with temperatures in the teens.
The ice and snow storms shuttered schools, flooded roads, brought down power lines, canceled airline flights and made for treacherous driving across the Plains and Great Lakes.
At least 15 deaths were blamed on slick roads or freezing temperatures.
Missouri Gov. Bob Holden declared a statewide state of emergency, Kansas Gov. Bill Graves declared a state of emergency for 21 counties and Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating declared 28 counties disaster areas.
At its peak, the storm left 270,000 customers without power in Kansas City and 36,000 had no electricity in Illinois. At least 185,000 lost power in parts of Michigan and Indiana.
Freezing rain and sleet coated trees Wednesday and Thursday, their ice-laden limbs snapping and cracking as they fell to the ground, pulling power lines with them. Arcing power lines flashed blue and green through Kansas City's night sky.
"It was poppin' like the Fourth of July back there," said Doris McGee of Kansas City, describing a backyard tree limb that pulled down the power line to her house.
As the worst of the storms moved east, officials feared ice accumulation would make it difficult to dig out Friday from the smorgasbord of snow, slush and ice.
"That makes this easily the worst storm we have ever experienced," said Kansas City Power and Light spokesman Tom Robinson. "We need our customers to be prepared that this could last several days."
Flights resumed at Kansas City International Airport, after two airlines canceled service Wednesday. But the airport reported delays of 30 minutes to two hours.
A foot of snow snarled O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation, said both O'Hare and Midway airport had dozens of cancellations and significant delays.
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