A blinding snowstorm blew across the US Plains, causing at least two deaths and dozens of injuries in numerous multi-car pileups and forcing authorities to close portions of several major highways.
One person died in a chain-reaction pileup on Saturday involving as many as 80 vehicles, including several tractor-trailer rigs, on Interstate 40 highway in Amarillo, Texas, police said.
Many were Christmas holiday travellers, including some families with small children not dressed for the cold weather, police Sgt Shawn McLeland.
Other drivers spotted them and opened Christmas presents to provide warmer clothing for the children.
The tangle of twisted cars and trucks shut down the interstate for most of the day. Authorities believe the pileup was caused by blowing snow and the resulting zero visibility.
In northeast Kansas, at least one person was killed in a 30-car pileup on Interstate 70, prompting authorities to close a 64-kilometre stretch of the highway.
The fierce snowstorm caused another wreck involving 20 to 40 vehicles, including three tractor-trailer rigs, on Interstate 29 in St Joseph in western Missouri.
Police closed about 160 kilometres of I-29 to the Iowa state line.
The Plains storm also blew heavy snow across Oklahoma and parts of Nebraska and Iowa, a region still recovering from a severe ice storm early last week that knocked out electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.