DES MOINES —
"It came on fast," Carlock said as she shoveled around her car late Thursday. "We're going to test out traction control on the way home."
Numerous accidents and two deaths were being blamed on the icy, slushy roadways. A medical helicopter crashed early Friday in Oklahoma City, two people onboard and injuring a third. It wasn't immediately clear if weather factored into the crash. The National Weather Service says conditions were clear and it was 20 degrees when the crash happened.
State legislatures shut down in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa. Most schools were closed in Kansas and Missouri, and many in neighboring states.
That included the University of Missouri, where classes were canceled for one of the few times in its 174-year history. At a nearby WalMart, students made a beeline for the aisles containing sleds and alcohol.
"This isn't our usual Thursday noon routine," Lauren Ottenger, a senior economics major from Denver, said as she stockpiled supplies.
All flights at Kansas City International Airport were canceled for Thursday night, and officials said they'd prepare to reopen Friday morning. On the other side of the state in St. Louis, more than 320 flights at Lambert Airport were canceled.
Transportation officials in the affected states urged people to stay home.
"If you don't have to get out, just really, please, don't do it," Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said. Interstate 70 through Kansas was snow-packed, and a 200-mile stretch between Salina and Colby was closed. The Kansas National Guard had 12 teams patrolling three state highways in Humvees to rescue motorists stranded by the storm.
For those who needed to drive, it's wasn't a fun commute.
Richard Monroe, a technology manager and marketing representative for the Missouri State University bookstore, said he arrived with eight of his colleagues in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday for a conference. He said a shuttle bus taking them on what should have been a five-minute trip got stuck in the snow, then ran into a truck. The vehicle was incapacitated for nearly two hours.