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Huge Groundhog Day Winter Storm Sets Records
The storm on Jan. 31, 2011.
Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team.

It must be bad out there if even schools in the Windy City closed their doors.

That's exactly what happened today (Feb. 2), as a huge storm dumped heavy snow on Chicago, prompting the public school system to take a snow day for the first time in 12 years.

As the massive storm pushed east, covering one-third of the United States, many people were digging out from under record-setting snowfall, while others were simply trying not to slip on the ice.

Chicago's snowfall total as of this afternoon was 20.2 inches (51 centimeters), making this storm the third biggest in the city's history. The snowfall also broke the city's record for one day in the month of February, according to the National Weather Service. [Related: World's Snow Cover Seen from Space .]

The storm's wide reach pummeled other cities as well.

Cities in Oklahoma were among the hardest hit, with power outages, damaged roofs and many stranded passengers as the storm passed through. Tulsa saw its worst snowstorm on record, with 14 inches (36 cm) of snow falling over two days. The Tulsa World canceled its print edition today because of weather for the first time in the newspaper's history. At Oklahoma City's airport, 12.1 inches (31 cm) fell, the second-highest total for any day there, the Oklahoman reported.

Measuring the historic snowfall in Tulsa, Okla.
Measuring the historic snowfall in Tulsa, Okla.
Credit: NWS.

Honors for the most snow went to Racine, Wis., with 26.5 inches (67 cm). Buffalo, N.Y., a city with a snowy reputation , saw only 3.4 inches (9 cm) of snow.

For many cities, freezing rain and ice were the most serious problem, and thousands of homes lost power. Across Texas, where the storm originated, rolling blackouts affected 44,000 people, the Dallas Morning News reported. Many people in parts of New Jersey and around Philadelphia also experienced power losses.

Reach OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at bisrael@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.