Pre-winter snowstorm continues to batter central Midwest

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CHICAGO (AP) — A wintry storm is battering much of the central Midwest early Monday, bringing blizzard-like conditions that have grounded hundreds of flights and closed major highways at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.

A cardinal perches on snow-covered twigs in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. A snowstorm had the area in a blizzard warning for several hours. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

The Chicago Department of Aviation reported early Monday that average departure delays at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport are 77 minutes, and the flight-tracking website FlightAware reported that more than 350 flights headed to or from the U.S. were canceled.

Heavy snow was expected to continue through the early hours of Monday with up to a foot (30 centimeters) of snow expected in Chicago, including and wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph) likely to cause whiteout conditions, according to The National Weather Service.

Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa. Downed tree limbs and power lines will continue to cause power outages.

In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration on Sunday. The action came as a large stretch of Interstate 70, spanning much of the state, was closed between Junction City and WaKeeney.

Separately, a portion of Interstate 29 was shut down in Missouri, near the Iowa border.

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories are in effect from central Missouri into eastern Michigan.