Storms across the nation's midsection delivered freezing cold and as much as 10 inches of snow by Thursday, bedeviling drivers on slippery roads and closing schools from Texas to Indiana.
At least 10 people were killed in road wrecks in Kansas, Missouri and Kentucky over two days. In Texas, a mother and son died in a fire sparked by an improperly installed wood-burning stove.
No injuries were reported on the plane, but at least one person was seriously hurt in a vehicle on the ground, an official said.
The eastbound storm system was expected to leave a half-foot of snow in central Illinois and 3 to 5 inches in the Chicago area, where by late afternoon about 30 flights had been canceled at O'Hare International and Midway.
In Indiana, dozens of schools dismissed students early, and community groups and churches canceled events, as many cities reported 4 to 6 inches of snow by evening.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra promised that Thursday night's "Yuletide Celebration" would go on — but it discounted tickets to attract stranded commuters.
The heaviest snow — up to 10 inches — fell along the Interstate 35 corridor into Kansas City, said Greg Koch, a National Weather Service forecaster. Temperatures in the city fell into the single digits. The St. Louis region received 2 to 4 inches.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Larry Plunkett said all three passengers in a sport utility vehicle were killed Thursday when it crossed a median on a snow-covered interstate near Charleston and struck a tractor-trailer head-on.
Also in southeast Missouri, a Greyhound bus struck the rear of a state truck that was plowing a two-lane highway near Greenville. Plunkett said seven or eight passengers were hurt, but none of the injuries was life-threatening.
Numerous vehicles slipped off roads or got into fender benders, troopers said. On a snow-packed interstate near Edgerton, Kan., a 31-year-old woman's pickup slid across the median Wednesday and collided with another vehicle, killing her and her 4-year-old daughter, authorities said.
"A lot of people aren't slowing down," said Judy Gilchrist, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
Schools in northern and central Texas were closed Thursday due to icy roads, and others scheduled later start times. The University of Texas at Austin canceled classes.
The fatal fire swept through a house in Lubbock Wednesday night, as seven family members tried to keep warm with the stove sitting in the middle of the living room, authorities said.
Fire or sparks from the stove — one designed to be installed flush to a wall — ignited a couch and spread, killing a 21-year-old woman and her 3-year-old son, Fire Department Capt. Marlin Hamilton said Thursday.
The mother first helped her other son, 6, escape through a window in their bedroom, Hamilton said.
In Oklahoma, up to 5 inches of snow fell, and the temperature plunged as low as 6 below zero in Guymon on the sweeping plains of the Panhandle.
Workers at a grain elevator in Hooker, Okla., dressed in three layers of clothes to cut the cold.
"If you keep yourself working, it's not bad," operations manager Jerry Diederich said. "But if I see them shiver a little bit, we stop and get a drink of coffee."