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Storm leaves behind one shivering nation

A shopper trudges home in Buffalo, N.Y. At least 17 deaths have been blamed on the storm.

Associated Press

A shopper trudges home in Buffalo, N.Y. At least 17 deaths have been blamed on the storm.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A deadly, windy storm that has paralyzed a wide swath of the nation for days left bitter cold behind as it finally made its exit Thursday, with temperatures below freezing in several states and gusts that made it feel as cold as minus-25.

Power failures in the Midwest, dozens of lost hunters in the West and howling winds that helped blow over a bus in New York provided just a few lingering miseries from the first major storm of the season.

At least 17 people have died in the meandering storm, including a man found Wednesday outside his pickup in central Iowa and a North Carolina driver killed when a tree was blown onto his pickup.

Emergency rooms took in people who had slipped and fallen, overdone shoveling or reached their hands into clogged snowblowers, while tow trucks freed drivers from the sides of icy roads and everyday residents simply struggled to get around.

"Like I stuck my face in the freezer," was how Bincy Mathew described the feeling in Chicago on Thursday, complaining about his watering eyes. "I think they are going to freeze up."

The days-old storm made its first punch in the West before plowing across two-thirds of the country with heavy snow, icy winds and even lightning and thunder before preparing to blow out to sea off Maine.

Authorities in northern Arizona said Thursday all hunters reported stranded or overdue after the storm dumped 2-3 feet of snow have been accounted for. In all, authorities received 22 reports either from hunters or concerned family members. Coconino County Sheriff's Office spokesman Gerry Blair said 50 hunters were offered assistance as of Thursday evening, some of whom declined.

Authorities said they could get more calls after elk hunting season ended at sundown Thursday. Between 2,500 and 3,000 permits were issued for the nearly weeklong hunt, said Shelly Shepherd, a spokeswoman for the state Game and Fish Department.

Michigan residents hunkered down under a blizzard warning as the coldest air of the season crossed Lake Michigan. More than 120,000 people lost power in the state, in the middle of a swath from Iowa to West Virginia and up to Maine where residents were in the dark at some point.

High snow totals, fueled by winds blowing over lakes Erie and Ontario, were possible for parts of New York through Saturday, including south of Buffalo and north of Syracuse. The Upper Midwest was left under a dome of arctic air that forecasters said would linger into the weekend.

Storm leaves behind one shivering nation 12/10/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:19pm]
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