A wintry storm brought blizzard-like conditions to parts of the Midwest early Monday, grounding hundreds of flights and causing scores of accidents and at least one death on slick roads crowded with people returning from work after the Thanksgiving weekend.
The Chicago area was slammed with up to a foot (30 centimeters) of wet snow, and whiteout conditions stalled commuter traffic on the roads. The National Weather Service said 7.5 inches (19 centimeters) of snow fell at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and 4.9 inches (12.5 centimeters) fell at Midway International Airport.
The Chicago Department of Aviation says more than 1,200 flights were canceled at O’Hare between midnight and 3 p.m. Monday, after 700 flights at the airport were canceled Sunday. At Midway International Airport, where 123 flights were canceled on Sunday, another 71 flights had been canceled as of midnight.
One Chicago native trying to fly to Orlando, Florida, chided himself for not heeding the forecast, but maintained his sense of humor.
“I knew it was right around the corner, and behold I stayed that one extra day and paid the price. So I was able to spend the evening here at beautiful O’Hare and had plenty of company,” said Mark McCoy, referring to all the other travelers stranded at the travel hub.
“It’s all part of the Thanksgiving travel experience,” McCoy said.
One couple was faced with an unexpectedly long layover in Chicago after spending two weeks with their son in Thailand. Bob Kernez, 61, said he and his wife were contemplating getting a hotel room in the city but were unsure if they wanted to leave the airport.
“We’re not really dressed for the weather now,” said Kernez, of Duluth, Minnesota.
The storm also dumped wet snow on parts of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, creating treacherous driving conditions. Police responded to dozens of crashes Monday morning in the Lansing area and in nearby Ionia County, officials encouraged people to stay off “treacherous” roads after a 48-year-old woman died when she lost control of her car on icy M-66 on Monday morning.
The Illinois State Police, which responded to many spin-outs and collisions — but no reports of serious injuries — had a similar message to stay off the roads unless necessary, particularly since falling temperatures were expected to make the roads even more slippery.
Further south, Gov. Jeff Colyer declared a state of emergency in Kansas on Sunday after 2 to 14 inches (5 to 36 centimeters) of snow fell in parts of the state. The state Department of Transportation reported several road closures Monday, mostly in the extreme northeast, but said a stretch of Interstate 70 that had been closed on Sunday was reopened.
The National Weather Service said that 3 to 9 inches fell across northern Missouri on Sunday. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported multiple fender-benders but by midmorning on Monday the Department of Transportation said all roads were opened. Flights were mostly on time Monday at Kansas City International Airport, one day after the storm caused widespread delays.
Roads in much of Nebraska and the southern half of Iowa remained covered in snow and ice early Monday, even after the storm had passed those states. Several state and U.S. highways were impassable in Nebraska, but traffic was moving on Interstate 29 in the southwestern corner of Iowa and Interstate 80 in the eastern of the state, despite a blanket of snow.
Roads were slick in northern Indiana early Monday after about 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow fell, and more was forecast through the afternoon.