Chicago - Residents across the country began digging out of snow and ice Wednesday after a record-setting storm crippled cities and forecasters warned there was more bad weather on the way.

Snow continued to fall in Chicago on Wednesday after the city recorded 20.2 inches making it the third-largest snowfall on record. The area struggled to recover from a crippling blizzard that shut down roads and train service and left hundreds of motorists stranded.

At an early morning briefing, city officials urged residents to stay home as plows try to clear roads of giant drifts from winds that gusted overnight to 70 mph. The city shut down Lake Shore Drive for the first time in years as an untold number of motorists were stranded overnight after multiple car accidents on the iconic roadway.

The National Weather Service said snow will fall before the storm moves away and winds of 20 to 30 mph will continue through much of the day. A storm brewing in the south at the end of the week will move up the East Coast bring rain and snow across the Northeast.

Across the country, the storm system was blamed for at least 10 deaths, including that of a homeless man burned on New York's Long Island as he tried to light cans of cooking fuel, and an Oklahoma City woman who was being pulled behind a truck on a sled that hit a guard rail.

In Chicago, airlines canceled more than 2,200 flights at O'Hare International Airport, and 400 flights at Midway International Airport. Public schools closed for the first time in 12 years and almost 80,000 ComEd customers in northern Illinois were without power.

Security guard Ed Ransom, 36, stopped for coffee after a long bus ride to work Wednesday morning. He was eager to get to work because power was out at his South Side Chicago home.

"What a mess," he said. "They warned us we would be getting a big one, and they sure were right."

The monstrous storm billed as the worst in decades barreled across the country from Texas to Maine, bringing a huge swath of the country to a halt, depositing dangerous amounts of ice and snow before hitting the winter-weary Northeast. A foot or more was dumped on parts of Missouri, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and upstate New York.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday the storm is over the Northeast where winter storm warnings are still in effect for New England, especially northwestern New Jersey and southern Connecticut. Cold air is pouring in behind the storm causing near-hurricane wind gusts of up to 70 mph in Chicago, where blizzard warnings are high and snowdrifts are reaching more than 10 feet high.

Missouri received as much snow as 1 1/2 feet, more than a foot dropped on northern Indiana, and Oklahoma has up to a foot. In the Northeast, spots in northern New York had already gotten more than a foot of snow.

Madison, Wis., received more than a foot of snow in 24 hours. High winds caused massive waste-high snowdrifts to shut down much of the city Wednesday morning.

Restaurant worker Marcus Ortelee woke up to drifts more than 4 feet high in front of his house. "This is the third time I've been out shoveling since 10 p.m. last night," he said. "I've been in worse because I used to live in Alaska, but we just don't get volumes of snow here like this."

In Iowa, residents dug out from snow that totaled more than 18 inches in some eastern Iowa communities. The official highest snowfall statewide was reported in Lowden in Cedar County, at 18.5 inches. The unofficial statewide high was 19.7 inches in Davenport, state climatologist Harry Hillaker said.

"What made this storm especially bad was that the highest winds and the snow were coming together. In most storms, you get the snow first and the wind picks up as the snow is winding down," Hillaker said.

Forecasters Wednesday warned that ice accumulations could knock down some tree limbs and power lines and affect transit service, even as plow drivers struggled to keep up with the snow on many roads.

Thousands of airline flights were canceled across the country as the storm covered a distance of more than 2,300 miles. As of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, 5,449 flights had been canceled in the U.S., 17% of all flights that were scheduled for Wednesday, according to the tracking firm FlightAware.

Life came to a standstill in a wide swath of the nation. Legislatures, schools and businesses closed, athletic events were postponed, and people stayed home.

Gingham's Homestyle Restaurant in St. Charles, Mo., is open 24 hours, even on holidays, but owner Craig Uttendorf closed the doors Tuesday afternoon. "It's been sleeting pretty good," he said, "and we've got a blizzard warning. We never close, but today is just not worth it."

Blizzard warnings Wednesday were still in effect in five states, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, according to the National Weather Service.

The Iowa Department of Transportation said most roadways in the state were partially or completely covered with ice and snow. Fatal wrecks were reported in Minnesota and Kansas.

Ice coated Missouri and portions of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. All of Interstate 70 in Missouri was closed between St. Louis and Kansas City.

In Indiana, 850 members of the National Guard were activated and 26 shelters prepared. "There's only so much man can do to control Mother Nature, and ultimately Mother Nature will always win," First Sgt. Dave Bursten of the Indiana State Police said.

Power failures caused by icing were a major concern. The storm caused about 18,000 Indiana customers to lose power, but electricity was restored to all but 8,500 customers, said Joe Wainscott of the state Department of Homeland Security.

Road crews tried to keep up with heavy snow and ice while drivers confronted snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour in some areas.

Jorma Duran of the Missouri Department of Transportation said it takes 100 to 200 pounds of salt to cover one lane for one mile during an average winter storm - and more in an ice storm. On Tuesday, the Missouri DOT doubled those normal rates. Cost per ton of salt: $60. The state is using 1,500 snow vehicles to cover 33,000 miles of roads in the next 48-72 hours.

Ruddie's Quik Stop, a convenience store in El Reno, Okla., ran out of milk, eggs and bread Tuesday, owner Ruddie Leathers said. He wasn't sure when resupplies would be able to get through. "Usually we think 6 inches is a terrible storm," he said. "This is the kind of excitement I don't need."

The blizzard halted production of Wednesday's Tulsa World, the first time in more than a century that the newspaper has not published.

At the Blind Tiger restaurant in Topeka, general manager Mike Bowman said he plans to remain open even though a coating of ice slowed business "almost to a screeching stop" before it began to snow. Double-digit snowfall totals were expected.

"I'm about tired of winter already," Bowman said.

Some states were luckier than others when it came to the storm. State officials say cental Indiana "dodged a bullet," missing the more severe snow and ice for sleet that didn"t weigh down power lines and tree limbs.

"It's amazing to see what the difference of one or two degrees in temperature can make on the impact of a storm," said Joe Wainscott, executive director of Indiana's Department of Homeland Security which is monitoring and helping to co-ordinate the state's response to the storm."We are anticipating much less damage and much less effect from the results of the ice across the central portions of the state."

Still, little relief from the wintry onslaught is in sight for the USA over at least the next couple of weeks, says Weather Channel meteorologist Tom Moore. "The storms won't stop," he says.

Freezing rain could lead to a significant ice storm Thursday night and early Friday in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. That same storm will track up the East Coast later Friday and into Saturday, spreading more rain and snow across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

As for temperatures, Moore said that after a gradual moderation in the cold over the next few days in the central, southern, and eastern USA, yet another Arctic outbreak is poised to blast the entire eastern half of the country by early next week.

Contributing: Carolyn Pesce and Doyle Rice in McLean, Va.; Charisse Jones in New York City; Ben Jones of The Post-Crescent, Appleton, Wis.; William Petroski, The Des Moines Register; Mary Beth Schneider, The Indianapolis Star; Associated Press