A powerful storm system

hat wreaked havoc from the West Coast to the South swept across Wisconsin and northern Michigan yesterday, dumping more than half a foot of drifting snow that made travel dangerous and kept youngsters out of class.

"We keep on plowing, but the wind keeps blowing," said Arnold Bubolz, acting highway commissioner for Brown County, Wis., surrounding Green Bay.

In the Plains states, hit Tuesday with nearly two feet of snow and high winds, residents started digging out but many roads were still impassable, authorities said. Towns in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, meanwhile, assessed the damage from tornadoes and high winds that killed five people.

At least 28 deaths have been blamed on bad weather this week, including 10 people killed in five plane crashes blamed on fog.

The storm's reach could be felt as far east as New England and New York, where freezing rain fell early in the day, turning to a steady rain later on.

On Michigan's Upper Peninsula, snow was accompanied by winds gusting to 42 mph. Snow fell faster than plows could clear it in Dickinson County, said plow operator Doug Krokstrom. "After we took one pass down the road," he said, "there would be another two inches when we came back in the other direction."In Wisconsin, the state highway patrol at Eau Claire and Tomah reported finding abandoned cars on roads and in ditches.

Many schools in Michigan and northern Wisconsin and some businesses were closed, deputies said.

Skies were sunny Wednesday in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Minnesota, allowing plows to begin clearing roads and stranded travelers to restart their trips.

In northwestern Kansas, buried under 16 inches of snow and drifts several feet high, schools were closed for the second day.

In the South, the violent thunderstorms spawned by the storm were over, but downed power lines complicated rescue efforts and left hundreds without power or telephone service.

Alabama Gov. Guy Hunt declared a state of emergency in stricken areas in his state. Danny Cooper, director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said observations made from the air indicated that 12 houses, 11 trailer homes, two businesses and one chicken house were destroyed by a tornado in Cullman County. Twenty-six people were injured.

Three tornadoes roared through western Tennessee on Tuesday, killing at least five people, injuring dozens and causing widespread damage, primarily in the small town of Moscow.

Tornadoes injured at least one person in northern Mississippi, and high winds badly damaged about 30 houses and injured seven in Arkansas.

Thirty people were evacuated as flooding hit the section of West Memphis, Ark., that was inundated on Christmas.

In southern California, the Coast Guard plucked two survivors of the storm from the ocean yesterday after a 60-hour ordeal, and the search resumed for two other boats lost in the tempest. Damage estimates rose to $72 million in the United States and Mexico.