Heavy snow falling in upper Midwest leaves roads treacherous

Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee among urban areas to receive several inches

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor
AP photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Workers shovel a Chicago sidewalk as a winter storm makes its way through several Midwest states Friday.

A winter storm moving across the Great Lakes that's forecast to drop about a foot of snow from Chicago to Detroit on Friday has created treacherous driving conditions, closed schools and forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

The National Weather Service issued winter-weather warnings and advisories across the upper Midwest. The snow that began falling late Thursday afternoon was expected to continue through Friday as the storm moves east.

CURRENT RADAR: Track the snow

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city was gearing up for three more rounds of snow through the weekend after crews dealt with 6 to 7 inches overnight.

"The good news is we're tried and tested here," he said. "We're up to it."

As of Friday morning, the National Weather Service received reports of between 9 and 11 inches f snow over a 24-hour period in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Eight inches were reported in parts of northern Illinois and in New Carlisle in northern Indiana.

Snow across southern and central Michigan ranged from 7 inches on the western side of the state to more than 2 inches in the Detroit area.

Hank Stawasz was out shoveling his driveway by hand, clearing a path for the retiree to exit his home in the Detroit suburb of Livonia.

"It's part of living in Michigan," a smiling Stawasz said from underneath his Detroit Red Wings winter hat. "I saw the plows come by, so I figured I'd get a jump on it so I wouldn't have to shovel it when it's 4 feet high."

By dawn Friday, heavy snow was falling in metro Detroit, with 4 inches already on the ground as morning rush hour began. WDIV-TV meteorologist Paul Gross forecast 4 to 9 inches on Friday, with the potential of another couple inches falling on Saturday and Sunday.

The Weather Channel is predicting that as the storm continues east over the weekend, western, central and upstate New York into northern New England will receive less than 6 inches, but a few spots east of lakes Erie and Ontario may see more.

About 750 flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and about 300 flights were canceled at Midway, the Chicago Department of Aviation reported Friday morning. More than 200 flights were canceled at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan, by early Friday.

American, United, Delta and Southwest airlines warned travelers to expect more flight cancellations to and from Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Check FlightAware.com for the latest and call your airline before heading to the airport if you plan to travel over the next couple of days.

Slide-offs and crashes were reported on the roads early Friday in the Chicago and Detroit areas. A multi-vehicle crash that closed a stretch of eastbound Interstate 94 near Ann Arbor, but no severe injuries were reported.

Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully said 300 salt-spreading plows hit the streets late Thursday and would continue their work through the weekend.

The expectation of up to 12 inches around Chicago prompted officials to close the city's public schools to about 390,000 students Friday. Classes were also canceled in the city's suburbs. CPS officials said Friday morning they expected classes to resume Monday.

Schools in Detroit shut for the day along with Wayne State University in Detroit and other schools across Michigan. Students in the Milwaukee Public School District -- Wisconsin's largest school district -- have Friday off. Schools across Nebraska and Iowa closed or delayed the start of classes.

Track the snowfall on radar


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