SEYMOUR, IN (WAVE) - Devastating, debilitating, historic - those are just a few of the words being used to describe a storm that forecasters say could go down in the record books as one of the worst ever.
Blizzard-like conditions are gripping parts of the country while dangerous icy rain is falling in other areas.
The Louisville area so far has escaped the brunt of the storm, but central Indiana has been hard hit.
The storm spans more than 2,000 miles, from Texas to the northeast and the numbers are staggering:
100 million people will feel the impact
More than two feet of snow in some places
Wind chills as low as 20 below
Wind gusts as high as 70 mph
All of this came on the day the country looks to a rodent to find out if this winter will soon come to an end.
For folks in central Indiana it was a near miss Wednesday, with the bulk of the precipitation falling as sleet instead of freezing rain. It was manageable, but not without problems. At one point during the storm's peak, Duke Energy reported some 70,000 customers without power.
Farther north, it looked like a winter wonderland in Chicago as the city faced its third largest blizzard. With 19.5 inches of snow and winds gusting to 50 mph, it was difficult if not impossible for people to reach their destinations in white-out conditions. The storm was so intense that schools closed in the Windy City for the first time in 12 years.
But while snow in some places may be measured in feet, the impact of this colossal storm will be measured against history.
Air travelers were also going nowhere - at least 20 percent of flights in the U.S. had been canceled by mid-afternoon.
Even in Dallas thousands preparing for the big game found themselves battling a big freeze.
An estimated 100 million people live in the storm's path and are facing dangerous ice, driving snow and what could be crippling power outages that could last for days.
"when you combine that with the size of the storm, it was potentially going to get to the point where states were going to need assistance just to be able to respond," said FEMA Director Craig Fugate.
FEMA is already positioned in almost a dozen states and the National Guard is standing by in other states.
And for many, making it through the snow and sleet is just the first step as temperatures fall in the aftermath of the storm.
Meanwhile, early on the morning of Feb. 2 in Punxutawney, Pennsylvania - home to the time- honored tradition of Groundhog Day - the faithful waited for Phil who did not see his shadow this time, leaving a glimmer of hope that this historic storm - and winter weather - could soon be on the way out.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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