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Winter storm gathers strength as it pushes into Great Plains, blamed for fatal Oklahoma crash

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    A wrecked car sits in the middle of US Highway 54 near downtown Wichita, Kan. as heavy snow falls on Wednesday morning, Feb. 20, 2013. A large winter storm moved in over the early morning hours and is expected to last until Thursday evening. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying) (The Associated Press)

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    A woman walks through Central Riverside Park on a snowy Wednesday morning in Wichita, Kan., Feb. 20, 2013. Hundreds of snow plows and salt spreaders took to the highways of the nation's heartland Wednesday, preparing for a winter storm that could dump up to a foot of snow in some regions and bring dangerous freezing rain and sleet to others. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Jaime Green) (The Associated Press)

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    A man walks in the snow, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 in Tulsa, Okla. A brief period of heavy show is possible in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas into early afternoon as a winter storm moves through the center of the country. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, Tom Gilbert) ONLINE OUT; TV OUT; TULSA OUT (The Associated Press)

An armada of snow plows and salt spreaders are deployed on highways across the nation's heartland, working to stay ahead of a powerful winter storm that already is blamed for one road death.

Winter storm warnings have been issued from Colorado through Illinois, with as much as a foot of snow expected in several areas.

National Weather Service meteorologist Kelly Sugden says the storm is moving a bit slower early Thursday morning than had been previously forecast but that it was gaining strength and producing a mixture of snowfall, lightning and sleet showers.