CHICAGO -- A winter weather colossus roared into the nation's heartland Tuesday, laying down a paralyzing punch of dangerous ice and whiteout snow that served notice from Texas to Maine that the storm billed as the worst in decades was living up to the hype so far.
Ice-covered streets were deserted in Super Bowl host city Dallas. Whiteouts shut down Oklahoma City and Tulsa. And more was on the way. Chicago expected 2 feet of snow, Indianapolis an inch of ice, and the Northeast still more ice and snow in what's shaping up to be a record winter for the region.
The system that stretched more than 2,000 miles across a third of the country promised to leave in its aftermath a chilly cloak of teeth-chattering cold, with temperatures in the single digits or lower.
Winds topped 60 mph in Texas. The newspaper in Tulsa, Okla., canceled its print edition for the first time in more than a century. In Chicago, public schools called a snow day for the first time in 12 years, and both major airports gave up on flying until at least Wednesday afternoon.
The high winds also had Chicago officials contemplating steps they haven't taken in years -- starting with closing the city's busy and iconic Lake Shore Drive because of the threat that high winds could produce 25-foot waves in nearby Lake Michigan.
Large sections of busy Midwest interstates were closed, and 9,000 flights had been canceled across the nation.
Many people heeded advice to stay home. Thousands of office workers in Chicago's famous downtown Loop district left early to avoid any transit troubles.
In Missouri, more than a foot of snow had fallen by midday, with no end in sight.
"The roads are just pure white. There's no traffic. Nothing," said Kristi Strait, who was working at Clinton Discount Building Materials in Clinton, Mo.
The storm was so bad in Polk County, 200 miles west of St. Louis, that emergency officials requested help from the National Guard because local officials did not have enough vehicles to get the elderly and shut-ins to shelter if the power went out.
The leading edge of the storm slammed first into Texas and Oklahoma after moving out of the Rockies. The blizzard halted production of the print edition of Wednesday's Tulsa World, marking the first time in the paper's nearly 106-year history that is has not published an edition.
Both of Oklahoma's major airports were closed. Outside Tulsa, at the Hard Rock Casino, the snow caused the partial collapse of a roof, but no injuries were reported.
In Texas, thousands of people lost electricity during the frigid conditions. Utility company Oncor reported nearly 27,000 customers without power statewide, with nearly half of the outages in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Other electricity providers took precautions against major blackouts.
St. Louis-based AmerenUE had 1,100 linemen on standby, some borrowed from companies in other states. Six trailers stocked with wire, replacement lines and other supplies were dispatched to possible trouble spots.
Few immediate outages were reported. But Chip Webb, Ameren's superintendent of reliability support services, expected that to change.
"There is ice on the lines," and it could be there for days, Webb said.
For those who insisted on braving the elements, the risks were many. "If you don't have enough fuel in your vehicle, you can run out, the heat goes out -- and people can even freeze to death," said Greg Cohen, executive director of the Roadway Safety Foundation.
The storm was expected to roll into the Northeast today, bringing still more snow to a winter-weary region. Towns that have been hit by several blizzards since December feared they wouldn't have anywhere to put more snow.
Ice-coated roads were nearly empty in Dallas, where the few motorists who braved the unfamiliar terrain slowed to a crawl as they passed jack-knifed tractor-trailers on slick highways. But the NFL stuck to its Super Bowl schedule, holding media activities at Cowboys Stadium in suburban Arlington as planned.
Green Bay Packers fans Dieter Sturm and Mark Madson postponed plans to drive from Wisconsin to the Super Bowl in a Cadillac convertible, but said they planned to leave Wednesday morning if possible.
"We love driving in the snow," said Sturm, who works making snow for movies and commercials. "We love having the snow fall on top of us. We're from Wisconsin. We can handle that without a problem. The icy roads are another story."
The pair said they have personal heating systems, including clothes dryer hoses laced inside their jackets that rest beneath their chins to keep their "faces from freezing solid," Sturm said.
In Ryan Stratton's house in the northern Oklahoma town of Bartlesville, nine children and nine adults crowded together to play video games, at least as long as the electricity stayed on.
The area tends to lose electricity in storms, Stratton said, and that's one reason he invited two other families to join him while waiting for this one to pass. They prepared by stocking up on propane and food, but a power outage would cut out some of the fun.
"We've got Rock Band, a PlayStation 3 in one room, a Wii in another, an old PS2 in another," Stratton said. "And we've got cable. ... It's a good chaos today."
Associated Press writers Don Babwin and Karen Hawkins in Chicago; Jim Salter in St. Louis; Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee; Justin Juozapavicius in Tulsa, Okla.; and Chris Blank in Jefferson City, contributed to this report.