An intense winter storm churned through the midsection of the U.S. Wednesday, leaving a third of the country buried under snow, sleet and ice.
The massive blizzard, one of the worst since the 1950s, blitzed the nation’s heartland, leaving thousands without power as it raged from Texas to Maine.
Paralyzing Chicago and parts of the Midwest, the storm also brought travel to a halt.
“The extreme conditions are making it extremely difficult for rescue personnel to reach the stranded,” the National Weather Service warned Wednesday.
“Before considering getting on the roads this morning, ask yourself if getting to your destination is worth risking your life.”
95,000 people reportedly lost electricity in Illinois, while 50,000 experienced outages in Indiana and tens of thousands more lost power around Cleveland, Ohio, AFP reports.
“Lurking behind this impressive winter storm is a powerful shot of Arctic air as a frigid surface high drops down from central Canada,” the National Weather Service said.
Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Oklahoma declared states of emergency.
Chicago was buried under 19.9 inches of snow as of 1545 GMT, and called a snow day for its public schools for the first time in 12 years.