DES MOINES, Iowa —
Before the storm, several cities in the Midwest had broken records for the number of consecutive days without measurable snow.
In Madison, Wis., where more than 19 inches of snow fell, Plaza Tavern manager Erica DeRosa was busy shoveling the sidewalk to prepare for Thursday's lunch crowd.
"This is like shoveling wet cement," she said. "But it is super pretty out."
In the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, Kristin Isenhart, 38, said her three kids, ages 9, 5 and 3, were asking about going outside to play after school was canceled for the day.
"They are thrilled that it snowed," she said. "They've asked several times to go outside, and I might bundle them up and let them go."
As far as the region's drought, meteorologists said the storm wouldn't make much of a dent. It takes a foot or more of snow to equal an inch of water, said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people lost power in Arkansas, Iowa and Nebraska as heavy snow and strong winds pulled down lines. Smaller outages were reported in Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois and Louisiana.
"The roads have been so bad our crews have not been able to respond to them," said Justin Foss, a spokesman for Alliant Energy, which had 13,000 customers without power in central Iowa. "We have giant four-wheel-drive trucks with chains on them, so when we can't get there it's pretty rough."
Tom Tretter and his wife, Pat, had been without power since Wednesday night, and temperatures Thursday were dropping. The retired seniors were shoveling their steep driveway Thursday afternoon and scraping ice off the walkway to their Des Moines home.
"It's getting cold in the house," Tom Tretter said, leaning on his shovel in the driveway. "And I'm getting too old for this."