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Snowfall blankets Texas, Oklahoma; Deep South to see storms

OKLAHOMA CITY - A powerful winter storm in the central United States dropped snow as far south as El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday while areas of the Deep South were at risk of severe weather including tornadoes and torrential rains, forecasters said.

Winter storm warnings or advisories were in effect from eastern New Mexico to the St. Louis metropolitan area, the National Weather Service said. Meanwhile, the Storm Prediction Center said storms that could generate hail, 60 mph (95 kph) winds and twisters were possible across much of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The threat extended into border regions of Tennessee and Georgia, and forecasters said bad weather could continue after dark.

In Oklahoma, the state House and Senate both closed due to snowy weather, and the annual anti-abortion Rose Day rally that typically draws hundreds to the state Capitol was postponed.

Highway Patrol troopers worked more than two dozen accidents in the Oklahoma City area early Wednesday, including some with injuries, after several inches of snow fell overnight, said Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Sarah Stewart.

“The biggest impact has been snarled traffic from jack-knifed semis,” Stewart said.

In Arkansas, forecasters said up to a quarter-inch of ice and 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 centimeters) of snow were possible in the northwest part of the state. The remainder of the state was expected to get heavy rain on Wednesday.

Kansas City Chiefs fans attending a parade to celebrate the team's Super Bowl win were warned to be careful on the ride home amid a snowy forecast. The University of Missouri was closing early due to the storm.

The National Weather Service predicted 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 centimeters) of snowfall Wednesday along the parade route, with up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) in the Columbia area.

The Missouri Department of Transportation warned in a tweet that road conditions are worsening as the snowfall picks up. The tweet said, “If you can avoid it, DO NOT TRAVEL in this storm today!"

In neighboring Kansas, Pittsburg State University announced the cancellation of men's and women's basketball games.

Snow also was expected to extend into Illinois, Michigan and other parts of the Midwest on Wednesday and Thursday before reaching the Northeast by Friday, the weather service said.

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