Source AP ©

America's center covered with ice

America's center is under wintry storm and under a thick layer of ice Monday, blacking out more than half a million homes and businesses, and more icy weather was on the way. At least 13 people were killed on icy highways.

A state of emergency was declared for the entire state of Oklahoma. In Oklahoma City, the sound of branches snapping echoed through many neighborhoods.

The National Weather Service posted ice and winter storm warnings Tuesday for parts of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. Missouri declared an emergency on Sunday and put the National Guard on alert.

Oklahoma utilities said some 400,000 customers were blacked out as power lines snapped under the weight of ice and falling tree branches, and utilities in Missouri said more than 100,000 homes and business had no power there.

Roughly 11,000 homes were blacked out in southern Illinois and more than 5,000 had no electric heat or lights in Kansas, where Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was expecting requests from several counties for emergency declarations.

Ice was as much as an inch (2 1/2 centimeters) thick on tree limbs and power lines in parts of Missouri.

Tulsa International Airport had no power and halted flight operations, and most morning flights at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City were canceled because of icy runways. Bus passengers were stranded overnight at a shelter in a church in Tulsa, and were joined by some local residents who had no heat.

The icy weather stretched into the Northeast, where many schools across upstate New York were closed or started late because of icy roads.

On ice-covered Interstate 40 west of Okemah, Oklahoma, four people died in "one huge cluster of an accident" that involved 11 vehicles, said Highway Patrol Trooper Betsey Randolph.

Eight other people also died on icy Oklahoma roads, and Missouri had one death on a slippery highway. In addition, a homeless person died of hypothermia in Oklahoma City, the state medical examiner's office said.

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