Snowstorm Ices Roads, Grounds Flights in Chicago

By: AP
By: AP

CLEVELAND – A powerful winter storm blasted large swathes of the Midwest and Northeast with snow and freezing rain on Saturday, grounding flights and stranding vehicles along icy roads.

More than half of the morning flights at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were canceled or delayed. And 10 inches of snow at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport forced the cancellation of about 100 flights, Chicago's Streets and Sanitation Department reported.

"This is the biggest one of the season," said Brian Mitchell, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Cleveland. "We didn't have this kind of snow in the last couple of months."

The weather service posted storm warnings from Michigan through New England and predicted nearly a foot of snow for some areas.

In Ohio's Sandusky Bay, a freighter heading to coal docks became trapped and had to wait for a U.S. Coast Guard cutter to clear a path through the ice.

Ohio road crews were put on 12-hour shifts, and were doing all they could to keep pace with the new snow, said Theresa Pollick, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

"Now it becomes a plow and salt game," Pollick said. "It's basically keeping up with the precipitation."

Freezing rain in Indiana caused five salt trucks to slide into ditches Saturday as they worked to deice roads. Tow trucks stopped responding to accidents because they were sliding off icy roads when they tried to pull vehicles from ditches, the Star Press of Muncie reported.

"It's bad. You can't even stand up on the roads," said Duke Campbell, the highway manager for Indiana's Delaware County.

In Michigan, at least 8 inches of snow fell on the southern Lower Peninsula by Saturday afternoon. AAA said it had responded to about 2,500 calls for road service by 4 p.m., spokeswoman Nancy Cain said. Many calls were for vehicles stuck in snowdrifts, she said.

The storm was expected to hit New England by Saturday evening, with up to 10 inches of snow forecast in Massachusetts and eight inches in Rhode Island.

Snow that fell Saturday in New York City was expected to be followed by a midweek spell of subfreezing temperatures, as cold air moves south from Canada, said weather service meteorologist John Cristantello. Temperatures were expected to dip from the upper or mid-20s on Wednesday to the teens and even single digits Thursday and Friday.

Washington state continued to dry out Saturday after heavy rains and melting snow flooded parts of the Pacific Northwest earlier in the week. Most roads were reopened, but Gov. Chris Gregoire said an estimated $125 million in damage was done to roads and state property.

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Associated Press Writer Donna Gordon Blankinship in Seattle contributed to this report.


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