OMAHA, NEBRASKA (AP) – A major winter storm blanketed parts of the middle of the country with snow that continued into late yesterday in some areas, disrupting traffic and closing some coronavirus testing sites.
The United States (US) National Weather Service said at least four inches of snow is expected across most of an area stretching from central Kansas northeast to Chicago and southern Michigan.
Parts of southeast Nebraska and western Iowa got more than three times that much by yesterday morning.
The weather service forecast the light snowfall that began around sunset Monday in northern Illinois got heavier overnight, with accumulation totalling about three to sixinches by early yesterday.
Meteorologist Bett Borchardt forecast snowfall could total up to eight inches or more before it ended yesterday evening.
The last comparable snowfall in the area occurred in November 2018, when 8.4 inches of snow fell.
A winter weather advisory was issued on Monday for northwest Indiana, where the weather service forecast three to five inches of snow by the time the storm leaves the area yesterday. A mix of freezing drizzle was expected in the southern parts of the region.
The break in the relatively mild winter in northern Illinois may mean the rest of the season could be more active, said weather service meteorologist Matt Friedlein.
“Now, more active does not necessarily mean more snow,” Friedlein told the Chicago Sun-Times. “If we stay on the milder side of things, that could be more rain or more mixed precipitation.”
The city of Chicago on Monday warned residents that hazardous conditions are likely to impact morning commutes and some power outages are possible due to the wet nature of the snow and gusts.
City officials have dispatched about 280 salt spreaders to clear the city’s main streets and have created warming centres in libraries and park facilities for residents who have no heat because of the loss of power to their homes.
By late Monday, 120 flights had been cancelled at O’Hare and 48 flights at Midway international airports, with 15-minute delays at both facilities.
Gary Mayor Jerome Prince declared a snow emergency late Monday, placing restrictions on where vehicles can park and prohibiting the pushing of snow from private property onto city streets.
In addition, Prince closed city-owned buildings and facilities until today.
Several coronavirus testing sites in Nebraska and Iowa closed early Monday because of the snow. More than 10 inches of snow had already fallen in parts of eastern Nebraska by Monday evening.
National Weather Service meteorologist Taylor Nicolaisen said 10 to 15 inches of snow was likely between York, Nebraska, and Des Moines, Iowa, and that it has been at least 15 years since that area received more than a foot of snow in a single storm.
“This is historic snow,” said Nicolaisen, who is based near Omaha, Nebraska.
Many schools and businesses closed Monday as the storm moved across the region.
In western Iowa, Missouri Valley Superintendent Brent Hoesing reworked the lyrics of the 1970s hit I Will Survive to tell students in his district to “So Stay Inside.”