Blizzard pounds Midwest, moves on

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It is the first blizzard of the season A 30-car pileup in Iowa is blamed on snow; two people are killed Tens of thousands are without power

(CNN) — A major blizzard that has hammered the Midwest, prompting road closures, school cancellations and power outages, is expected to weaken Friday.

“The blizzard and heavy snows affecting the Midwest into the Great Lakes will continue throughout the evening hours of Thursday and finally begin to wind down by Friday,” the National Weather Service said.

But still light snowfall is expected to continue in a large swath of area from the Ohio Valley to New England, forecasters said.

The severe weather caused problems in many areas in the past few days.

Abby Moon and Carley Moon are pulled on a mattress by their grandfather Clyde Moon's four-wheeler during a winter storm in Fairfield, Wisconsin, on Thursday, <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>December</strong> 20. Gov. Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency in the state, mobilizing the Wisconsin National Guard as some areas are expecting up to 14 inches of snow with blizzard conditions. The blizzard cut power to tens of thousands of homes and forced schools to close across the upper <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>Midwest</strong>. ” src=”http://www.spyghana.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/wpid-121220100211-07-midwest-blizzard-1220-horizontal-gallery.jpg” width=640 height=360/></p>
<p> Abby Moon and Carley Moon are pulled on a mattress by their grandfather Clyde Moon’s four-wheeler during a winter storm in Fairfield, Wisconsin, on Thursday, <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>December</strong> 20. Gov. Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency in the state, mobilizing the Wisconsin National Guard as some areas are expecting up to 14 inches of snow with blizzard conditions. The blizzard cut power to tens of thousands of homes and forced schools to close across the upper <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>Midwest</strong>. </p>
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A group of horses play in the snow in Kingston, Wisconsin, on December 20. The State Patrol was warning motorists to stay home as a paralyzing winter storm approached, the first significant snowstorm to hit southern Wisconsin in two winters

Snow sticks to the trees along Levee Road during a winter storm December 20 in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Snow sticks to the trees along Levee Road during a winter storm December 20 in Baraboo, Wisconsin

Sandhill cranes ride out the storm on the banks of the Wisconsin River on December 20 on Baraboo.

Sandhill cranes ride out the storm on the banks of the Wisconsin River on December 20 on Baraboo

A man uses a tractor to clear snow in Waupun, Wisconsin, on December 20.

A man uses a tractor to clear snow in Waupun, Wisconsin, on December 20.

Snow blows on the Horicon Marsh near Waupun, Wisconsin, on December 20.

Snow blows on the Horicon Marsh near Waupun, Wisconsin, on December 20

A snowplow makes its way along a county road in Waupun on December 20.

A snowplow makes its way along a county road in Waupun on December 20

A man clears snow in Saukville, Wisconsin, on December 20.

A man clears snow in Saukville, Wisconsin, on December 20

Snow covers a farm in Waupun on December 20.

Snow covers a farm in Waupun on December 20

A 30-car pileup Thursday, caused by low visibility as a result of the blizzard, has shut down the southbound lanes of I-35 near Fort Dodge, Iowa, according to Sgt. Scott Bright, the Iowa State Patrol public information officer. Bright said one person was fatally injured in the pileup.

A 30-car pileup Thursday, caused by low visibility as a result of the blizzard, has shut down the southbound lanes of I-35 near Fort Dodge, Iowa, according to Sgt. Scott Bright, the Iowa State Patrol public information officer. Bright said one person was fatally injured in the pileup

Photos: Blizzard strikes the midwest

Photos: Blizzard strikes the midwest Event

Blinding snow also is blamed for a 30-car pileup on Interstate 35 near Fort Dodge, Iowa. Two people died, including a 43-year-old Arkansas woman, Sgt. Scott Bright of the Iowa State Patrol said Wednesday.

At least 20,000 customers were without power in Iowa early Friday, most of them in the Des Moines area, according to MidAmerican Energy.

The storm — the first blizzard of the season — made travel treacherous throughout the region. Nebraska authorities temporarily closed much of snow-packed Interstate 80 through the state Thursday as blowing snow dangerously reduced visibility. The interstate was reopened later.

But motorists were advised to be cautious.

Things were not much better in Iowa, Bright said.

“When the winds start to blow, you can see about 5 feet in front of your vehicle” he said. “We’ve had major issues all over the place. We got around 10 to 12 inches throughout the state and it’s a wet snow. We have around an inch of ice on our roadways.”

Close to 100 accidents had been reported in Iowa by late Thursday morning, Bright said.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency, put the National Guard and state patrol on standby and closed state offices to the public in 20 counties most likely to be affected by the storm. Employees were still expected to report for work.

As much as 7 inches was already on the ground Thursday in parts of southern Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin State Patrol and National Weather Service urged people to avoid traveling.

The storm is expected to move to the northeast and southern Canada on Friday.

CNN’s Stefan Simons, Jim Kavanagh, Jareen Imam, Laura Smith-Spark, Carma Hassan and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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