Blizzard Barrels Through the Midwest [Photos]

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The idea of snow at Christmastime usually evokes warm and fuzzy feelings: chestnuts roasting, fires crackling, beverages steaming. That is, until the stuff begins to fall — and on Thursday and Friday it fell relentlessly.

A blizzard pounded the Midwest this week, leaving transportation in shambles and even causing a dreadful 30-car-pileup that killed three people in Iowa.

The first major snowstorm of the season, it began in the Rockies before drifting eastward into the Midwest, slamming into a wide swath of the central U.S. including Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. The blizzard dumped more than a foot of snow in many communities. Madison, Wisconsin, for example, was buried under around 18 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

In Iowa, wintry conditions on I-35 blinded drivers, according to local NBC affiliate WHO TV, causing a chain reaction of crashes that left three people dead and prompting police to warn Iowans to stay off the roads. In Indiana, slick conditions caused a semitrailer to skid out of control and into a concrete barrier, killing the driver. In total, the storm was blamed for deaths in at least five states, the Associated Press reports.

The wintry storm has also caused the cancellation of hundreds of flights, stranding thousands of holiday travelers. Here’s a look at some of the most striking photos from the blizzard that struck the Midwest.

(LIST: Top 10 Big, Bad Blizzards)

image: Shoveling out cars was just one of the battles of the storm on Dec. 20, 2012 in Madison, Wis.

Tom Lynn / Getty Images

Shoveling out cars was just one of the battles of the storm on Dec. 20, 2012 in Madison, Wis.

image: Kansas City, Miss., city workers examine a fallen tree that landed on a telephone wire during snow and windstorm on Dec. 20, 2012, in Kansas City.

David Eulitt / Kansas City Star / LANDOV

Kansas City, Mo., city workers examine a fallen tree that landed on a telephone wire during snow and windstorm on Dec. 20, 2012, in Kansas City.

image: Trees covered in snow, added a stark quality to the scene as a man in West Bend, Wis., uses a snowblower to clear away a walkway on Dec. 20, 2012.

Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / LANDOV

Trees covered in snow, added a stark quality to the scene as a man in West Bend, Wis., uses a snowblower to clear away a walkway on Dec. 20, 2012.

image: An Amish boy plays in snow outside a one room school house in Kingston Wis., December 20, 2012.

JEFFREY PHELPS / EPA

An Amish boy plays in snow outside a one room school house in Kingston Wis., December 20, 2012.

image: A snow covered farm is pictured in Waupun, Wis, Dec. 20, 2012.

JEFFREY PHELPS / EPA

A snow covered farm is pictured in Waupun, Wis, Dec. 20, 2012.

MORE: The Real Economic Cost of Snow

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