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Chills Across U.S. As Ice Storm Heads East

Power lines were down, highways were treacherous and spring-like temperatures were only a memory Tuesday in parts of the Northeast in the wake of the storm that earlier had plastered the Midwest and Plains with a heavy shell of ice.

The death toll from the storm was at least 46 in seven states.

The weight of the ice snapped tree limbs, shorted out transformers and made power lines sag, knocking out current to about 145,000 customers in New York state and New Hampshire on Monday, though service had been restored for roughly half of them by Tuesday morning.

"If you live here long enough, you just know the power's going to go out twice a year, at least. You don't worry about it," said Scott Towne, owner of Rondac Pet Services near Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where portable generators provided light and heat for about two-dozen dogs. "You make all the plans in advance that you can."

Scores of schools canceled classes or opened late Tuesday in New Hampshire and upstate New York in the Northeast and Oklahoma and Texas on the southern Plains.

The storm had largely blown out of New England by Tuesday morning, leaving up 10 inches of snow in western Maine.

A wave of arctic air trailed the storm, dropping temperatures into the single digits as far south as Kansas and Missouri. The 7 a.m. temperature Tuesday at Kansas City, Mo., was just 2 degrees, while Bismarck, N.D., had a reading of 16 below zero, with a wind chill of 31 below, the National Weather Service reported.

Cold air also was moving into the East, where temperatures have been far above normal in recent weeks and the ground has been bare of snow. Instead of skiers, the unseasonable weather has drawn out golfers and bicyclists.

Icy roads cut into Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observances from Albany, N.Y., to Austin, Texas, where officials in both states canceled gubernatorial inauguration parades Tuesday.

More power outages were possible in New Hampshire as wind battered ice-laden branches. "We are restoring some and adding more," Public Service Co. spokeswoman Mary-Jo Boisvert said Tuesday morning. Some New York customers might have to wait until Thursday, the utility National Grid estimated.

In hard-hit Missouri, the utility company Ameren said it would probably not have everyone's lights back on until Wednesday night. As of Tuesday morning, about 215,000 homes and businesses still had no electricity.

The White House said Tuesday that 34 Missouri counties and St. Louis had been declared a major disaster area, making federal funding available. A similar federal disaster declaration was approved Sunday for Oklahoma.

About 100,000 homes and businesses were still waiting for power Tuesday in Oklahoma, some of them waiting since the storm's first wave struck on Friday. Ice built up by sleet and freezing rain was 4 inches thick in places. The Army Corps of Engineers assigned soldiers to deliver 100 emergency generators to the McAlester area.

Customers in some rural parts of Oklahoma might have to wait until next week for service, said Stan Whiteford of Public Service Co. of Oklahoma.

"There are a lot of places where virtually everything is destroyed. In some cases, entire electric services will have to be rebuilt," he said.

Many trees in Muskogee, Okla., were snapped by the storm that sat over this region for three days, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella. Ice built up by sleet and freezing rain was 4 inches thick in places.

For a fourth cold night, Mary Miller's family had no electricity and no heat. They're using a propane stove to cook and stay warm. The only light comes from an extension cord connected to the pickup truck.

"Do you have any idea when you're going to get power back?" asked Cobiella.

"They said anywhere from three to four days to maybe a week or so," said Miller.

"Emergency responders are having a hard time getting to residents where their services are needed because of trees and power lines in the road," said Pittsburg County, Okla., Undersheriff Richard Sexton.

More than 200,000 customers in Michigan also lost power and about 86,000 of them were still blacked out Tuesday.

Waves of freezing rain, sleet and snow since Friday had been blamed for at least 17 deaths in Oklahoma, eight in Missouri, eight in Iowa, four in New York, five in Texas, three in Michigan and one in Maine.

Elsewhere, Washington state's Puget Sound area, known for off-and-on drizzle rather than freezing winter weather, was hit by another round of snow Tuesday, snarling traffic and closing schools for more than 380,000 students. The Oregon Legislature delayed hearings and sessions until afternoon because of the weather. Even Texas got hit.

"They'll be skating at the Alamo today as sleet and freezing rain is icing over some southern sections of Texas, where the normal high is around 60," said CBS News meteorologist George Cullen, who called that a rare event.

"The areas of Oklahoma and Missouri which are covered in ice will see some sunshine today but there won't be much melting going on, as the mercury will barely get out of the low 30s," Cullen added. "Elsewhere, it's going to get real bad in upstate New York. Where thick ice built up yesterday from Buffalo to Syracuse, today strong winds could tear down some ice laden trees, and to make matters worse, heavy lake effect snow will be piling up and whipping over the ice."

In California, three nights of freezing weather had destroyed up to three-quarters of the state's $1 billion citrus crop, prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare a state of emergency. Other crops, including avocados and strawberries, also suffered damage.

"This is one of those freezes that, unfortunately, we'll all remember," said A.G. Kawamura, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

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