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Fierce storm leaves 20 states shoveling and shivering

Posted at 9:11 AM, Feb 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-22 09:33:28-05

By Ben Brumfield

(CNN) — A winter storm that spanned 20 states and dumped record snow in parts of Kansas grew weaker as it marched toward the Northeast Friday.

The snowstorm is expected to hit the Great Lakes region the same day, according to the National Weather Service, dropping 4 to 7 inches of snow over Iowa and about an inch or so less over Chicago.

Over the weekend, the system should hover over New England, according to weather service forecast maps.

Winter wonderland

Duke the English bulldog has given new meaning to the word “dogsled.”

His owner, Karen Blue, shot a video of the 75-pound pooch barreling down a slope near Kansas City, Missouri, on a bright red sled, barking all the way. He appeared to enjoy himself, and Blue got a warm chuckle out of it.

“He is obsessed with his sled,” Blue wrote, when she posted the video to CNN’s iReport on Thursday.

Bystanders let out whoops and cheers, as the stocky fellow stepped off the sled when the ride was up. A man shouted: “He wants more!”

Some snow records

Kansas probably doesn’t.

The state got the brunt of the snow as a winter storm moved past.

Wichita saw its second-highest storm snowfall total on record with 14.2 inches over two days, the weather service said.

Some parts of the state saw even more snow, and Missouri was not far behind, with accumulations of around a foot in some places. Neighboring Nebraska got less snow than expected.

The snow set a record at Kansas City International Airport with 9 inches falling in a single day. The old record was 5.1 inches set in 2010. The airport closed down Thursday.

Many early morning flights were canceled Friday, but the airport’s website schedule shows most flights going ahead as planned afternoon.

Some businesses and universities shut down Thursday as state officials urged residents to stay off the roads.

The white blanket emptied out the streets of Kansas City.

Buses ran until 1:00 p.m. Thursday, but driving them wasn’t easy, as some got stuck. One bus trying to negotiate a left turn on a snow-covered street fishtailed, swiping down a light pole on a sidewalk. The incident was caught on camera and made its way to CNN affiliate KMBC.

Bus service resumes Friday morning, and a handful of businesses have reopened, KMBC reported.

Tornadoes, downpours and more

The winter storm is part of a massive system that stretches down to the Gulf of Mexico, where it is drenching the coastline in subtropical downpours and has generated at least one confirmed tornado in Jefferson Davis, Mississippi.

The storm tore the roof off of a house in Clayton, Louisiana, according to the Sheriff’s department, and damaged a second home. But the weather service has not reported a tornado there.

Flood warnings, watches and advisories line the system’s path, as it moves eastward, bring rainfall from Louisiana to West Virginia.

Desert wonderland

The system is leaving behind much needed moisture in regions where precipitation has been rare lately.

“Big chunks of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas” are facing exceptional drought, HLN meteorologist Bob Van Dillen said. “You squeeze out the water from the melting snow, and you’re talking 1 to 2 inches of water for those dry regions.”

And it has given desert regions near the border with Mexico a delightful spectacle.

“I’ve been here for over 10 years and I’ve never seen it snow like this,” Kayla Avery of Tucson, Arizona, said in a CNN iReport Wednesday, which came with a video of the snowfall. She remembers having played in the snow as a child in Boston.

The storm left a thin layer of white powder on desert plants and palm trees.

CNN’s Josh Levs and Pedram Javaheri contributed to this report.