CHICAGO — A fearsome storm spread a smothering shroud of white over nearly half the U.S., snarling transportation, burying parts of the Midwest under 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow and causing at least 12 deaths.
Tens of millions of people stayed home. The hardy few who ventured out faced howling winds that turned snowflakes into face-stinging needles. Chicago's 20.2 inches (51 centimeters) of snow was the city's third-largest amount on record. In New York's Central Park, the pathways resembled skating rinks.
"A storm that produces a swath of 20-inch (50-centimeter) snow is really something we'd see once every 50 years — maybe," National Weather Service meteorologist Thomas Spriggs said.