Icy storm to persist in central U.S.

From the Associated Press

A winter storm lashed the central part of the nation with another blast of freezing rain, sleet and snow Saturday, causing widespread power outages and tying up highways and airports.

The storm was expected to continue through the weekend, laying down a coat of ice and snow from Texas to Illinois, where an ice storm warning was in effect until Monday morning.

"We're in the middle of this storm," said St. Louis meteorologist Joe Pedigo of the National Weather Service. "Friday was the first of three waves."

The storm in the Midwest had been blamed for at least seven deaths, and it brought Amtrak service in Missouri to a halt Saturday. Trees and other debris felled by the weight of ice blocked tracks at several places between St. Louis and Kansas City.

About 115,000 homes and businesses in the St. Louis area had no electricity Saturday.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and Texas Gov. Rick Perry activated their National Guard members Saturday. Blunt, who also declared a state of emergency, said the worst wave may come today.

In San Marcos, Texas, a tornado damaged at least 13 homes, several businesses and the police headquarters. Fallen power lines blocked part of Interstate 35 until crews could remove them, said the city's communications manager, Melissa Millecam.

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