December's Inevitable Calling Card

(CBS/AP) Drivers in the Northeast faced a treacherous commute Monday as a storm blamed for at least 11 deaths nationwide blanketed the region with snow, sleet and freezing rain after glazing roads in the Midwest.

The National Weather Service said a foot of snow is possible in the mountains of northern New England, with the potential for 20 inches in northern Maine. Upstate New York's central Adirondacks and Lake George region could see 12 inches of snow. Lake effect snow and high winds are forecast for parts of Michigan and western New York.

"It's kind of a mess - probably the best way to term it in one word," meteorologist Bob Kilpatrick said in Albany.

The weather is blamed for four deaths in Michigan, three in Wisconsin, and one each in Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota and Colorado.

Ice storm warnings were issued for Massachusetts and Connecticut, while winter storm warnings were in effect in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and northern and western New York State. On the other side of the weather system, winter storm warnings were issued for parts of Michigan.

Three to 6 inches of snow had fallen by Sunday afternoon in central New York State, while parts of northern New Jersey measured about 3 inches.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority salted its roads Sunday but didn't bother to plow because the snow turned over to rain.

"Compared to what's happening in the Midwest, we've kind of got it easy right now," said Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the authority.

The storm dumped snow and ice from the Plains across the Upper Midwest on Saturday.

Minnesota's Grand Marais, on Lake Superior's North Shore, got 20 inches of snow, and the port city of Duluth marked a Dec. 1 record of 10.3 inches, according to the weather service.

Roads were already cleared Sunday in Grand Marais, said Jane Shinners, owner of the downtown Harbor Inn.

More than 200 passengers stranded at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport because of canceled flights Saturday were finally able to reach their destinations Sunday, said Gregg Cunningham, a spokesman for Chicago's Department of Aviation.

But lingering rain and poor visibility caused about 50 flight cancellations Sunday afternoon, forcing about 75 people to stay at the airport overnight, Cunningham said.

Hundreds of flights into the New York City area's three main airports - Kennedy, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia - were delayed as long as two hours Sunday because of wind and ice.

Before the storm hit the Plains and Midwest, it dumped about 3 feet of snow in one mountain area in western Colorado. Silverton Mountain ski resort workers had hoped to open for the season Sunday but postponed the opening a day because of the storm.

While the Midwest dug out and the Northeast watched snow accumulate, a separate storm raked the Oregon and Washington coasts with winds gusting higher than 100 mph in some spots. One sheriff reported 45-foot surf and power failures, and officials warned of coastal flooding.

"You might be living literally more on the ocean than you had in mind," said Andy Bryant, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service.

As predicted, the snow began turning into rain in some areas on Monday.

Buffalo and parts of western New York got up to six inches of snow before changing to rain, reports CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano. But it was plenty for kids to make their first snowman of the winter.

At Chicago's O'Hare Airport, ticket agents were busy rebooking passengers after some 400 flights were cancelled Sunday, adds Solorzano.

Douglas Fox finally made it on a flight, but only after an ordeal with an earlier attempt:

"They pulled back from the gate," he told CBS News, "we sat there, and then we had to go back to the gate because the plane was icing up more quickly than they could de-ice it. After further delay, after 10:00, actually, the pilot came on and said that they were timed out and they weren't able to fly anymore."

Minnesota's Grand Marais, on Lake Superior's North Shore, got 20 inches of snow, and the port city of Duluth marked a Dec. 1 record of 10.3 inches, the Weather Service said.

Utility companies in Illinois said the lights were back on for most of the nearly 140,000 customers who lost electricity Saturday as ice weighed down power lines. The ice also had blacked out more than 14,000 customers around Iowa, utilities reported.

Before the storm hit the Plains and Midwest, it had dumped up to 2 feet of snow in the mountains of western Colorado.

One member of the Purdue University ice hockey team was killed Saturday when a team van overturned on a slippery Indiana highway, school officials said. Seven others were injured.


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