Storm Leaves Trail of Snow, Ice, Power Outages, Freezing Temperatures

Storm of "historic proportions" sends influx of people to Northeast hospitals.

Feb. 2, 2011— -- A winter storm left a 2,000-mile-long trail of snow and ice from the Midwest to the Northeast and two thirds of the nation facing downed power lines, shuttered highways and thousands of airport cancellations.

Several deaths have been blamed on the storm labeled a "winter storm of historic proportions" by the National Weather Service.

Sandra Joslin, 50, of Wichita, Kan., died when her car got stuck on a set of train tracks in the snow, ABC affiliate KAKE reported.

Joslin was on her way to work at 5:30 a.m. this morning when she got stuck. She was thrown out of her car when the train hit the vehicle.

A man in Detroit died in a traffic accident caused by icy roads, the Detroit News reported.

In New York, a homeless man burned to death when he tried to light cans of cooking fuel to stay warm.

The storm that pounded the Midwest moved east today. Hospitals in the Northeast were seeing spikes in emergency room visits from people slipping and sliding on treacherous ice.

Emergency rooms were seeing a spike in ankle, wrist and head injuries, doctors said.

"It's completely out of the ordinary and record breaking," said Dr. Stephan Lynn of St. Luke's Hospital in New York City. "The streets are treacherous and just crossing the corner is a major procedural problem."

Freezing rain was expected to dump three quarters of an inch of ice on New York City this afternoon. Spots in northern New York have already gotten more than a foot of snow.

In Connecticut, where residents were coping with significant ice accumulation, doctors said the string of winter storms this season has sent an influx of people to hospitals.

"We had people coming in due to heart attacks and severe injuries from snow-blowers," said Dr. AJ Smally of Hartford Hospital.

In Middletown, Conn., the roof of a building housing several shops collapsed, the Hartford Courant reported. No one was injured. Two workers heard a cracking noise and ran.

"It's like a bomb scene," acting Fire Marshal Al Santostefano told the Associated Press. "Thank God they left the building when they did."

That was one of several roofs in the region to collapse.

In Boston, several planes were damaged when a roof caved at the Norwood Memorial Airport, ABC Affiliate WCVB reported. The freezing rain and snow was piling on top of the mounds of snow from past storms.

Boston was expected to receive 3 to 6 inches of snow today, which would mean approximately 70 inches of snow accumulation this season.

The wet, heavy snow could cause power outages and more roof collapses in the suburban Boston area and other parts of Massachusetts.

Click here to see images from this winter's harshest storms.

Winter Storm: Midwest Gets Slammed

The nation's heartland took the brunt of the storm, with snowfall totals of a foot and a half or more piling up in parts of Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service.

As of 4 p.m. ET, the National Weather Service listed Antioch, Ill., as having the highest snowfall total -- 27 inches. Other heavy hit areas included Glen Ellyn, Ill., with 24.3 inches; Kenosha, Wis., 24 inches; Racine, Wis., 23.5 inches; St. Charles, Ill., 22.7 inches; West Allis, Wis., 22.5 inches; and Green Ridge, Mo., and Urbana, Mo., both 22 inches.

Parts of Michigan, Ohio and Massachusetts also got more than a foot of snow.

Local responders as well as National Guard members were helping Midwesterners dig out from the storm's damage.

"This storm is still moving, it's still going to affect the Northeast," Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate said. "The biggest problem right now is transportation ... with the airports being closed, interstates. And overnight, a lot of people were stranded."

Amtrak service in the Midwest and Northeast was curtailed. Several trains scheduled to depart from Chicago were canceled. Trains were operating on a delayed schedule in some parts of the Northeast.

Across the nation, 5,634 flights had been canceled as of 12:20 p.m. ET, according to Flightaware. The total number of flights canceled this week swelled to 13,608 flights.

Chicago's O'Hare Airport, perhaps the hardest hit, was closed today after 20.2 inches of snow fell in the city and high winds created blizzard conditions. Chicago's public schools were closed for the first time in 12 years.

With final numbers still to come, it was the third-largest storm on record in Chicago, beating the infamous storm of 1979 that left 18.8 inches and was widely considered a factor in the city's mayoral race.

Monday night, thunder snow and lightening shocked Chicago residents. Winds as high as 60 miles per hour created whiteout conditions, limiting visibility and halting traffic.

Lake Shore Drive was shut down after commuters were trapped in standstill traffic for up to 12 hours Monday. A cascading series of car and bus accidents within a 15-minute period Monday night forced the highway's closure. Up to 900 cars were stuck in snow so deep they could not escape. Overnight, firefighters traveled by snowmobiles to help drivers push their cars to safety.

Jaco Collins spent most of the night trapped in his truck.

"The guy behind me here got stuck and pinned me," Collins said. "I was inside ... for almost seven hours."

Click here to see images from this winter's harshest storms.

Chicago Hit Hard By Blizzard

Illinois officials deployed as many as 700 members of the National Guard to help stranded motorists. Some of the stranded were taken to St. Joseph's Hospital. None of the people were hospitalized but many were soaking wet from the snow.

Stretches of the highway remain dotted with abandoned vehicles. Around the lake, winds are gusting at more than 60 miles per hour and there are snow drifts four feet high.

Even Chicago's iconic Wrigley Field was impacted by the storm -- with the press box of the 97-year-old ballpark sustaining damage.

More snow was expected throughout the day in Chicago. The area could see up to 24 inches of snow. The last major snowstorm there was in 1999, dumping about 19 inches. In 1967, 23 inches were dumped on the city.

Further west, a foot of snow crippled Oklahoma City. Stranded cars lined the ditches along the highways.

Tulsa, Okla., received record snowfall of 15 inches, according to the National Weather Service. The town's paper, the Tulsa World, was not printed this morning.

"This will be the first time in our history that we have not printed a Tulsa World," said publisher Robert E. Lorton III. "However, we wanted to make sure our employees and their families remained safe as we all try to deal with this weather."

In Indiana, thick ice accumulated overnight, frustrating plow drivers. Freezing rain dumped nearly an inch of ice in Indiana.

"There isn't anything we can do about it," one plow driver said.

Ice-coated power lines throughout the Midwest caused massive power outages. Officials warned of dangerous conditions with trees weighed down by ice and falling on power lines. Most power lines are only built to hold a half inch of ice.

FEMA was standing by with generators and supplies if governors asked for their help.

"The real heroes right now are these local responders that are still going out in the storms, rescuing people ... the local department of transportation as well as National Guard units," Fugate said.

Northeast Hit by Ice and Snow

While the Northeast is no stranger to snow, this is the seventh storm to hit the region in the past 35 days. The string started with the Dec. 26 blizzard that left the region's transportation systems crippled.

Last week's snowstorm broke a record in New York City -- pushing the monthly total to more than 50 inches -- the snowiest January in more than a century. The average snow total for New York is about 21 inches.

Click here to see images from this winter's harshest storms.

Click here for winter weather safety tips from "GMA."

ABC News' Sam Champion, Barbara Pinto, Ryan Owens, Linsey Davis, John Berman, Chris Bury, Seniboye Tienabeso, Susan Caraher and the Associated Press contributed to this report.