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Storm Causes Deaths, Injuries, Power Outages; Affects Travel

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) -- A winter storm left a 2,000-mile-long trail of snow and ice from the Midwest to the Northeast and two thirds of the nation facing downed power lines, shuttered highways and thousands of airport cancellations.

Several deaths have been blamed on the storm labeled a "winter storm of historic proportions" by the National Weather Service.

Sandra Joslin, 50, of Wichita, Kansas, died when her car got stuck on a set of train tracks in the snow, ABC affiliate KAKE reported.  Joslin was on her way to work at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning when she got stuck.  She was thrown out of her car when the train hit the vehicle.

A man in Detroit died in a traffic accident caused by icy roads, the Detroit News reported, while in New York, a homeless man burned to death when he tried to light cans of cooking fuel to stay warm.

The storm that pounded the Midwest moved east Tuesday.  Hospitals in the Northeast saw spikes in emergency room visits from people slipping and sliding on ice.  Emergency rooms were seeing a spike in ankle, wrist and head injuries, doctors said.

In Middletown, Connecticut, the roof of a building housing several shops collapsed, the Hartford Courant reported.  No one was injured.  Two workers heard a cracking noise and ran.

That was one of several roofs in the region to collapse.

In Boston, several planes were damaged when a roof caved at the Norwood Memorial Airport, ABC Affiliate WCVB reported.  The freezing rain and snow was piling on top of the mounds of snow from past storms.

The nation's heartland took the brunt of the storm, with snowfall totals of a foot and a half or more piling up in parts of Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service.  Parts of Michigan, Ohio and Massachusetts also got more than a foot of snow.

Amtrak service in the Midwest and Northeast was curtailed.  Several trains scheduled to depart from Chicago were canceled.  Trains were operating on a delayed schedule in some parts of the Northeast.

Across the nation, 5,634 flights had been canceled as of 12:20 p.m. ET, according to Flightaware.  The total number of flights canceled this week swelled to 13,608 flights.

Chicago's O'Hare Airport, perhaps the hardest hit, was closed Tuesday after 20.2 inches of snow fell in the city and high winds created blizzard conditions.  Chicago's public schools were also closed for the first time in 12 years. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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