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Snow woes: Too much here, not enough there

Outside Chris McBride's house, trees bent and snapped with explosive cracks as the heavy, wet snow from the deadly blizzard that paralyzed the Plains piled higher.

"It was kind of like a war zone," she said, describing the scene as neighbors gathered on her porch Sunday to watch and listen.The first big snowstorm of the season left hundreds of thousands without power Monday from the Plains to the Great Lakes, including 230,000 homes and businesses in Michigan alone.

At least 11 deaths were linked to the weather, including an Illinois state trooper killed Monday while directing traffic on an icy highway. Hundreds of people spent hours snowbound in airports, bus terminals and along highways as wind-whipped snow cut visibility to zero and piled drifts up to 15 feet high.

Schools in many communities were closed Monday.

Hundreds of miles of highways were closed during the weekend in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and parts of Kansas and New Mexico. More than 4 feet of snow fell in the Rockies and snow fell as far south as Texas.

The sun was out Monday over the Plains, melting snow as the remants of the storm moved far to the east, sliding across New England. The morning rush hour in Omaha was marked by numerous accidents on slippery, debris-scattered streets and power outages darkened many traffic lights.

Things were still slow at Denver International Airport, where airlines had trimmed Monday's flights and check-in lines were estimated at three hours long. Delays also were reported at airports in Chicago and Des Moines.

In Salt Lake City, the last few stranded Greyhound Bus travelers boarded buses for points east about 7:30 a.m. Monday. More than 200 people spent the weekend in the downtown terminal after the storm closed at least five eastbound bus routes on Friday, including I-80 between Rock Springs, Wyo. and Cheyenne.

Greyhound ticket agent Mel Hafoka said she had never seen so many people crammed into the Salt Lake terminal. "Now that they're gone, it's kind of quiet and boring," she said.

The storm was deadliest in eastern Colorado. Four people were found dead in stranded cars, three from the cold and another from carbon monoxide poisoning. An 11-year-old boy in tiny Stratton, near the Kansas line, died after becoming lost in the snow after sledding.

In Oklahoma, a 77-year-old woman who tried to walk from her stranded car to her home a mile away was found dead in 18 inches of snow. A candle in a home without power started a fire that killed an Omaha woman, while a man in Grand Island died of a heart attack while clearing snow.

Most major roads were open in Colorado, but hundreds of abandoned vehicles were scattered on highway shoulders. National Guardsmen used helicopters, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles to rescue stranded motorists or residents from powerless homes.

"We've flown, patrolled and reopened the highways and don't believe we have any remaining missing motorists," said David Holm with the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.

A few hunters remained missing and searches were to resume by tonight.

After leaving 22 inches of snow in Denver, the storm churned east into Michigan by Sunday night. At least 40,000 people lost power in the Chicago area, while at its peak 150,000 were without power in eastern Nebraska.

In Iowa, 19,000 were without power late Sunday. In Ames, reports that the storm would swing south of Iowa helped the family of Miriam and Amy Segedi put off the purchase of new boots.

But fresh snow in their yard called out for a snowman, so the sisters improvised. They tied plastic bags around their shoes and headed outdoors.