Schools have been closed and thousands of flights delayed or cancelled after a dangerous snowstorm fell across the midwestern US following an extended holiday weekend.
Strong winds and snow created blizzard conditions across the midwest into Monday evening, including much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. The National Weather Service warned conditions would make travel difficult in those places, as well as Chicago.
With much of the central Plains and Great Lakes region under blizzard or winter storm warnings, nearly 6,000 flights had been delayed or cancelled by Sunday, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.
Heavy snow was expected to continue through the early hours of Monday with up to a foot (30 centimetres) of snow expected in Chicago, including wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph) likely to cause whiteout conditions, according to The National Weather Service.
The Chicago Department of Aviation reported early Monday that average departure delays at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport are 77 minutes, and FlightAware reported that more than 350 flights headed to or from the US were cancelled.
Parts of southeastern Wisconsin, just north of Chicago, suffered worsening conditions from the storm as well, with about 9 inches (23 centimeters) of blowing and drifting snow.
The blizzard-like conditions were the aftermath of a storm carrying over from the extended holiday weekend.
On Sunday, Kansas governor Jeff Colyer declared a state of emergency after 2 to 14 inches of snow fell in parts of the state. Kansas’ Department of Transportation reported several road closures Monday, mostly in the northeast, and that a stretch of Interstate 70 that had been closed on Sunday was reopened.
The blizzard warning was extended to parts of eastern Illinois and Chicago, where snow was forecasted to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour.
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.
Meanwhile, a portion of Interstate 29 was shut down in Missouri, near the Iowa border.
Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories remain in effect from central Missouri into eastern Michigan.
Additional reporting by AP.
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