Wintry blast moves snow, winds toward Great Lakes

A winter storm causing chaos on a busy travel weekend brought more high winds, snow and rain Monday as it pushed from the Midwest toward the Great Lakes and into the northeast US.

More than 1,300 flights within, into or out of the US were canceled Monday, according to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was hit particularly hard, with more than 800 flight cancellations and delays averaging more than 40 minutes because of heavy snowfall.

The storm brought heavy snow from Colorado and Wyoming, where up to 60 inches of snow fell, through the Midwest, including Iowa, which got up to 17 inches. The storm hit the Chicago area hard, with more than 7 inches of snow, making it the strongest November storm since 1975 and the fifth-largest on record for the month.

At the peak of the storm, more than 220,000 customers were without power in the Midwest, particularly in the Chicago area. Winter weather warnings, watches and advisories continue to stretch from Indiana to New England, where snow will continue.

Temperatures have warmed in the Northeast, so rain is expected for the major metro areas. About 24 million people are under flood or flash-flood watches, including residents of New York City and Philadelphia.

The snow in the Midwest caused travel nightmares for people like Michelle Hammar, a student at William Penn University in Iowa who turned 21 while stuck at O’Hare. She had three flights canceled so far, and sipped her first legal alcoholic drink at an airport bar.

As the storm moves to the Northeast, more delays are likely. In all, winter-weather watches, warnings and advisories that stretch from Illinois to New England cover more than 18 million people.

Cold air moving in behind the storm will bring heavy lake-effect snows, with up to 20 inches expected just south of Buffalo, New York, on Tuesday into Wednesday.

Kansas declared state of emergency

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration for the state and officials said road conditions were “treacherous” in some areas.

“We strongly recommend that you postpone travel plans, if possible; however, if you must be on the road, make sure your vehicle’s emergency kit is stocked, your gas tank is full and your cell phone and charger are with you and someone knows your travel plans,” the declaration reads.

Kansas City International Airport was closed to flights arriving on the airfield due to low visibility caused by weather conditions but reopened Sunday evening, according to its Twitter account.

More than 1,700 US flights were canceled Sunday, with delays to 5,091 flights, according to FlightAware. Most were at Kansas City and Chicago’s O’Hare International and Midway airports.

Multiple roads were also closed because of whiteout conditions, according to the KanDrive website. The Kansas Department of Transportation tweeted late Sunday that Interstate 70 had reopened statewide but that there could be morning delays, with ice and wind blowing snow over just cleared highways.

There were reports of snow as high as 16 inches in parts of Iowa, with other areas reporting 3 inches to 10 inches. Baileyville, Kansas, notched 10 inches and 7 inches fell in Salina, Kansas.

The weather system was forecast to move into the Great Lakes region before hitting the Northeast on Monday, according to CNN meteorologist Haley Brink.

Millions were under a high-wind advisory. This includes residents of Kansas and some in parts of Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Wind reports from the Central Plains clocked wind gusts at tropical storm force from 50 to 75 mph from Nebraska to Texas.

Fort Hays State University student Brooks Barber captured the blizzard conditions in Hays, Kansas, on Sunday morning. Streets were dark, and many were without power, he said.

The National Weather Service Quad Cities office posted a video of a weather balloon being released in a blizzard.

Whiteout conditions brought low visibility to the small town of Chariton, Iowa, which is an hour south of Des Moines.