TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Snow and bitter winds caused at least one fatal accident in Kansas as the state's first major snow storm of the season shuttered schools, temporarily closed highways and left thousands without power.

Gov. Sam Brownback delayed the opening of state offices until midmorning to give employees more time to get to work, but at least 30 public school districts, including Topeka and Lawrence, canceled classes for the day.

Westar Energy Inc., the state's largest electric company, said less than 1,000 of its customers remained without power Thursday evening.

One person died during a three-vehicle accident Wednesday night in southwestern Kansas during a blizzard. The Highway Patrol said a westbound tractor-trailer and an eastbound GMC vehicle collided on U.S. Highway 50, east of Dodge City, and another vehicle ran into the others. The crash killed 21-year-old Roy Gaytan of Dallas, Texas, who was a passenger in the GMC.

Interstate 70, which was closed on Wednesday, was open statewide Thursday morning with conditions described as icy and snow packed. For a short time Thursday morning, a stretch of U.S. 36 from just west of Troy to the Missouri border was closed in northeast Kansas, but the state Department of Transportation reported all roads open by midmorning.

Still, conditions along U.S. 36 near the northeast Kansas town of Hiawatha remained slick in places as the morning sun arrived, said Joetta Wagoner, an employee at the All Star Travel Plaza at the junction of U.S. 36 and U.S. 73. She'd slid off the road twice on her way into work early Thursday morning. She said two managers who couldn't make it in at all.

She said only a couple of inches of snow fell, but the wind whipped it up.

"It was a complete whiteout," she said.

Phil Mullis, manager of the Petro Stopping Center in Salina, saw numerous vehicles off to the side of the road during his 30-minute trip from his home in Abilene west to work. His truck stop is at the intersection of I-70 and U.S. 81.

"Ice was the biggest factor," Mullis said. "It's not over by any means as far as accidents go."

However, the snow was welcomed by farmers and state officials because of Kansas' ongoing drought.

"Hopefully we'll get a lot more snow. Heavy, wet snow that sits there for a day," Gov. Sam Brownback said before a meeting at the Statehouse on the drought. "Get it off the roads and on the wheat fields."

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Also contributing was John Milburn in Topeka.

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter at www.twitter.com/apjdhanna

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  • A car sits covered in snow and fallen tree branches, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. The first widespread snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday with some areas receiving as much as 15 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Gene Fritz cleared snow from new vehicles at Valley Buick, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 in Apple Valley, Minn. The first widespread snowstorm of the season crawled across the Midwest on Thursday, with whiteout conditions stranding holiday travelers and sending drivers sliding over slick roads _ including into a fatal 25-vehicle pileup in Iowa. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Glen Stubbe) MANDATORY CREDIT; ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS OUT; MAGS OUT; TWIN CITIES TV OUT

  • Luke McHenry, left, his son, Sebastian Wells, dig out their snow-buried vehicle as residents in Madison, Wis. contend with a severe winter storm that moved through the upper Midwest Thursday, December 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)

  • Zach Stead and his dog Tucker brave high winds, blowing snow and freezing temperatures while walking outside Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 in Springfield, Ill. The first widespread snowstorm of the season crawled across the Midwest on Thursday, with whiteout conditions stranding holiday travelers and sending drivers sliding over slick roads, including into a fatal 25-vehicle pileup in Iowa. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

  • Kurt Blunt, of Overland Park, Kan., blows snow off a client's driveway Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Prairie Village, Kan. The first widespread snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday with some areas receiving as much as 15 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Kurt Blunt, of Overland Park, Kan., blows snow off a client's driveway Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Prairie Village, Kan. The first widespread snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday with some areas receiving as much as 15 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Snow clearing crews in Pine Island, Minn were out early trying to clear roads before morning commuters headed to work on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The first major snowstorm of the season began its slow eastward march across the Midwest early Thursday, creating treacherous driving conditions and threatening to disrupt some of the nation's busiest airports ahead of the holiday weekend. (AP Photo/The Rochester Post-Bulletin, Jerry Olson)

  • A closed due to no power sign sits in the window of a local coffee shop, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. The first widespread snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday with some areas receiving as much as 15 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Victor Jimenez, of Des Moines, Iowa, gets a push from his dad Guillermo Jimenez, left, as they clear snow off a driveway, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. The first widespread snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday with some areas receiving as much as 15 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Blowing snow reduces vision as motorists wait for a light change in Lawrence, Kan., Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The Midwest's first major snowstorm of the season was sweeping across several states early Thursday, shuttering schools, creating treacherous roadways and threatening to slow down one of the nation's busiest airports ahead of the holiday weekend. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

  • Noah Nichols, of Des Moines, Iowa, cleans snow off his car, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. The first widespread snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday with some areas receiving as much as 15 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Noah Nichols, of Des Moines, Iowa, cleans snow off his car, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. The first widespread snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday with some areas receiving as much as 15 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Noah Nichols, of Des Moines, Iowa, cleans snow off his car, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. The first widespread snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday with some areas receiving as much as 15 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Winter Storm

    Rachel Goins pulls her children, Noah, 2, front, and Caden, 5, in a sled up the driveway during a winter snow storm in Oregon, Wis., Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The first major snowstorm of the season began its slow eastward march across the Midwest early Thursday, creating treacherous driving conditions and threatening to disrupt some of the nation's busiest airports ahead of the holiday weekend. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Amber Arnold)

  • Chris Sauer shovels snow from her driveway during a winter snow storm in Oregon, Wis., Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The first major snowstorm of the season began its slow eastward march across the Midwest early Thursday, creating treacherous driving conditions and threatening to disrupt some of the nation's busiest airports ahead of the holiday weekend.(AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal,Amber Arnold.)

  • A truck makes its way down a snow covered Interstate I-35/I-80, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa. The first widespread snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday with some areas receiving as much as 15 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

  • Winter Storm

    Covered in steadily falling snow, Colman Devine makes his way home from an overnight work shift in Madison, Wis., as a severe winter storm hits the upper Midwest Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The first major snowstorm of the season began its slow eastward march across the Midwest Thursday, creating treacherous, sometimes deadly driving conditions and threatening to disrupt some of the nation's busiest airports ahead of the holiday weekend. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)

  • Snow-covered cars in a parking lot greet early morning risers in Madison, Wis. as a severe winter storm moves through the upper Midwest Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart)

  • A woman and her husband shovel their walk as a blizzard dropped snow over Boulder, Colo., Wednesday Dec. 19, 2012. A storm that has dumped more than a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains is heading east and is forecast to bring the first major winter storm of the season to the central plains and Midwest. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

  • Southern Wisconsin Hit By Major Blizzard

    BARABOO, WI -DECEMBER 20: Prairie grass sticks up through the snow during a winter storm December 20, 2012 in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The State Patrol was warning motorists to stay home as a paralyzing winter storm bore down on Wisconsin In the first significant snowstorm to hit southern Wisconsin in two winters. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)

  • Southern Wisconsin Hit By Major Blizzard

    FAIRFIELD, WI -DECEMBER 20: A red barn stands out during a snow storm early in the town of Fairfield, Wisconsin. The State Patrol had warned motorists to stay home as a paralyzing winter storm bore down on Wisconsin, the first significant snowstorm to hit southern Wisconsin in two winters. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)

  • Southern Wisconsin Hit By Major Blizzard

    BARABOO, WI -DECEMBER 20: Nick Goetz leans against his car tired from pushing it out of the snow during a winter storm December 20, 2012 in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The State Patrol had warned motorists to stay home as a paralyzing winter storm bore down on Wisconsin, the first significant snowstorm to hit southern Wisconsin in two winters. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)



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