Snowstorm forces canceled flights, road closures
A plane carrying 129 people skidded Saturday from a slick Chicago runway and a plow driver was killed when his truck rolled over outside Kansas City following a winter storm that covered many parts of the Midwest in snow and ice.
No injuries were reported on the United Airlines flight at O’Hare International Airport as it arrived Saturday morning from Phoenix, Chicago Fire officials said. The massive storm which dumped 10 inches of snow on some areas in the Midwest prompted the cancellation of nearly 1,000 flights at Chicago’s airports. The average delay at O’Hare was nearly an hour Saturday afternoon.
Kansas Department of Transportation snowplow Stephen Windler, 25, died about 6 a.m. Saturday on U.S. Highway 69, according to the Wichita Eagle. A police crash report says his truck “traveled to the right, traversing the shoulder and drove into the grass” before it rolled over. Windler was thrown from the vehicle which landed on top of him.
The storm moved Saturday toward the Northeast and New England. Some northern parts of New England could see up to 18 inches of snow.
A 15-vehicle crash blocked a section of Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri near Ste. Genevieve Saturday afternoon and drivers were urged to find an alternative route. In Detroit, many motorists were moving well below posted speed limits along freeways due to slushy conditions. Amtrak canceled some trains Saturday from Chicago to Washington and New York and between New York and Boston and Pennsylvania on Sunday.
In Nebraska, authorities closed Omaha’s Eppley Airfield on Friday afternoon after a Southwest Airlines plane slid off an ice-slicked runway. No one was injured. The airfield later reopened.
The snow was part of a wall of hazardous weather that moved from the Dakotas across the Great Lakes states. The storm brought snow, ice and strong winds, followed by deep cold. The highest snowfall totals were expected in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, which could see up to 18 inches.
“It’s a complicated storm,” said Rich Otto, a National Weather Service meteorologist, told The New York Times. He said the “kitchen sink” of mixed precipitation was caused by a combination of cold air moving down from Canada and low pressure coming in from the south.
The storm continued to move briskly and was not expected to linger in the Northeast. Otto said he expected the worst to move past New York City, where only 2 or 3 inches were forecast, by Sunday morning. In New England, the storm was expected to pass by Sunday night.
As with any storm, National Weather Service offices across the country were busy providing detailed forecasts and updates. But this time their meteorologists were doing it without pay, a casualty of the federal government shutdown.
“There’s definitely a drain on morale,” said Ray Martin, a senior meteorologist in the Weather Service office serving Washington and Baltimore. He said he knew colleagues with young children or a new house who were struggling. “There’s a little bit of not feeling appreciated,” he added.
Some Midwesterners weren’t going to let a little winter weather keep them from going outside.
In downtown Detroit, Celeste Tremmel was out training for a marathon amid heavy and steady snowfall.
“When you run a marathon, you run no matter the weather,” said Tremmel, who plans to run a March marathon in South Carolina.
Running in snow is “like running in sand, so you go a lot slower and it’s a lot more work,” she said. “I’m really tired … but 40 degrees, wind and hail is worse.”
Further east, the National Weather Service in Albany, New York, said snow could fall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches an hour, creating “difficult to impossible travel conditions” in areas.
THE HIGHEST SNOWFALL TOTALS WERE EXPECTED IN VERMONT, NEW HAMPSHIRE AND MAINE, WHICH COULD SEE UP TO 18 INCHES.
Volunteers shovel sidewalks on South Wabash Avenue in the Chatham neighborhood Saturday in Chicago. A winter storm dumped 10 of snow in some areas of the Midwest.