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One dead as ice storm targets central United States

(Reuters) - A winter storm bringing icy rain to the Great Plains and Midwest claimed the life of a Missouri woman on Friday, prompted the delay of an NFL football game and threatened power outages and treacherous conditions throughout the weekend.

Ice, freezing rain and winter storm warnings were in effect from the Texas panhandle north into Iowa and east through central Indiana, the Weather Service said in an advisory, and both Missouri and Oklahoma had declared states of emergency.

"Significant amounts of ice accumulations will make travel dangerous or impossible," the weather service said. "Travel is strongly discouraged. Commerce will likely be severely impacted."

The storm's first known casualty was Tiffany Jackson, 31, of Crystal City, Missouri, who police said lost control after driving too fast on an icy overpass. Her vehicle slid off the road and struck multiple trees, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said, causing her to die at the scene.

Forecasters warned that ice accumulation from the storm could be more than half an inch (1 cm), creating slick roadways especially on bridges and overpasses, and possibly causing scattered power outages across the region, the service said.

The National Football League postponed the start time of a divisional playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Kansas City from around noon local time on Sunday to 7:20 pm, when conditions are expected to ease, the Chiefs said on the team's website.

In St. Louis, the Cardinals baseball team canceled Saturday's first day of its three-day "Winter Warm-Up" fan event, a benefit for youth baseball leagues and other organizations supported by the team, citing weather concerns.

On Thursday, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for the entire state.

"Emergency personnel are coordinating with state and local officials to ensure we are ... ready for whatever comes our way," said Fallin.

A handful of public schools, government offices and universities in Idaho, Oklahoma and other parts of the central region were shut down on Friday or had delayed openings due to the impending storm.

Parts of the region could also see as much as 3 inches (8 cm) of snow later in the weekend, according to the forecast.

“The best thing to do when it's icy is stay home,” the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said, adding that those who do venture out should heed the advice: “Ice and snow, take it slow.”

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Gina Cherelus in New York, Heide Brandes in Oklahoma and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif.; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)

 

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