CHICAGO, Ill. – A winter storm that brought snow and sleet to the Midwest and Plains created travel headaches Saturday after airlines canceled flights and officials shut down major roads.
The storm system began moving through the Plains and Midwest on Friday, leading to trouble at airports in Chicago and Kansas City. It was expected to spread to the Northeast by Saturday evening.
Blizzard conditions with powerful winds were reported in some areas, and officials in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa were urging people to stay inside if possible on Saturday. They noted that blowing snow made it nearly impossible to see in some areas, making driving treacherous.
Officials in South Dakota shut down most of Intestate 29 and a 72-mile (115.87-kilometer) portion of Interstate 90 Friday night. Both highways were open Saturday afternoon, although no traffic was advised on those roads. Most of I-29 in North Dakota and a 200-mile (321.87-kilometer) stretch of I-94 remained closed. Farther west in Wyoming, officials closed down stretches of Interstate 80 due to the weather and as a precaution against travelers becoming stranded without services.
The danger on the roads was highlighted by dashcam video recorded from a delivery truck and made public by the Iowa State Patrol. The video shows a state trooper and a person who had been involved in a crash along Interstate 80 near Council Bluffs in western Iowa on Friday looking at the damage when another truck loses control on the slick interstate and barrels into the crash scene, barely missing the trooper and other man.
In Nebraska, the winter storm that pummeled the state Friday was blamed for at least one death on Interstate 80, the Nebraska State Patrol reported Saturday. The patrol said the driver was killed Friday when the pickup he was driving spun out of control, crossed the median and slammed into a semitrailer. Nebraska troopers responded to more than 200 weather-related incidents across the state. Most of those were to assist stranded motorists, but 55 were crashes, the patrol said.
In the Northeast, snow totals could reach a foot (30 centimeters) or more in parts of Vermont and New York state. But most areas in the region were expected to get just a few inches. On Saturday, snow fell from Buffalo to New York City as the storm tracked across the state.
On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration halted all flights in and out of Chicago's O'Hare Airport for several hours, and a plane slid off an icy taxiway at Kansas City International Airport. The Chicago Department of Aviation reported about 200 cancellations at O'Hare on Saturday morning out of nearly 2,000 total flights, and the FAA said some flights were being delayed because of the weather.
After the storm, temperatures were expected to drop to the single digits and even below zero (-18 degrees Celsius) in parts of the Plains and the Midwest.