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Weakened winter storm tracks east

A deadly storm that halted travel throughout the Great Plains weakened Tuesday as it headed east into Missouri and toward the Great Lakes, and officials reopened interstates in areas where motorists had been forced to adjust holiday plans mid-trip.

Authorities still were reporting snowdrifts of up to 10 feet high in southeast Colorado, and Texas officials warned drivers to stay off the road in the Panhandle so crews would have a clear path to remove ice and snow. Major highways in the western half of the Oklahoma Panhandle remained closed.

Still, officials reopened Interstate 40 in the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico, and portions of Interstate 70 in western Kansas, which had been closed. New Mexico reopened a closed section of Interstate 25, the main highway from Santa Fe to the Colorado line after crews cleared drifts as high as 5 feet. The storm dumped as much as 15 inches of snow as it hit parts of five states.

At least 40 people were stranded at the Longhorn Motel on Main Street in Boise City, Okla., where manager Pedro Segovia said blowing snow had created drifts 2- and 3-feet high and closed the main road.

"Some people cannot even get out of their houses. There is too much snow," Segovia said. "It's was blowing. We've got big piles. It's real bad."

In Kansas, schools in Manhattan canceled classes Tuesday, anticipating several inches of snow. The National Weather Service reported later that 3 inches or less fell.

To the east, a cold rain pelted the Topeka area, turned into a mix of light sleet and snow without much accumulation and tapered off. Forecasters said the storm became less potent as it moved northeast toward the Great Lakes.

The late-autumn snowstorm lumbered into the region Monday, turning roads to ice and reducing visibility to zero.

The storm was blamed for at least six deaths Monday, authorities said.

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