"I was going crazy, they were so whiny,'' McCoy said.
Cases of wine and beer -- as well as bottles of scotch and whiskey -- were flying off the shelves at Ingersoll Wine and Spirits ahead of the storm's arrival in Des Moines, Iowa.
"A lot of people have been buying liquor to curl up by the fire,'' wine specialist Bjorn Carlson said. NWS forecasts showed 3 to 9 inches of snow were expected in Iowa overnight, and Nebraska will see an additional 2 to 5 inches.
Heavy, blowing snow caused scores of businesses in Iowa and Nebraska to close early, including two malls in Omaha, Neb. Mardi Miller, manager of Dillard's department store in Oakview Mall, said most employees had been sent home by 4 p.m., and she believed "only two customers are in the entire store.''
The storm brought some relief to a region that has been parched by the worst drought in decades.
Vance Ehmke, a wheat farmer near Healy, Kan., said the nearly foot of snow was "what we have been praying for.'' Climatologists say 12 inches of snow is equivalent to about 1 inch of rain, depending on the density of the snow.
Near Edwardsville, Ill., farmer Mike Campbell called the precipitation a blessing after a bone-dry growing season in 2012. He hopes it is a good omen for the spring.
"The corn was just a disaster,'' Campbell said of 2012.
Areas in the Texas Panhandle also had up to 8 inches of snow, and in south central Nebraska, Grand Island reported 10 inches of snow. And Arkansas saw a mix of precipitation -- a combination of hail, sleet and freezing rain in some place, 6 inches of snow in others.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Thursday morning. All flights at Kansas City International Airport were canceled for Thursday night, and officials said they'd prepare to reopen this morning. More than 320 flights at Lambert Airport in St. Louis were canceled by Thursday afternoon. Traffic throughout the state was snarled by hundreds of accidents and vehicles in ditches.
The University of Missouri canceled classes for one of the few times in its 174-year history. At a nearby Wal-Mart, some students passed the ice scrapers and snow melt, heading directly to the aisles containing sleds and alcohol.
"This isn't our usual Thursday noon routine,'' Lauren Ottenger, a senior economics major from Denver, said as she stockpiled supplies.