Jan. 19 (UPI) — A major winter storm was dumping several inches of snow and causing travel headaches in the Midwest as residents in the Northeast braced for trouble hitting them this weekend.
More than 100 million people in the United States — about 30 percent of the nation — were facing heavy snow, strong winds and frigid temperatures, CNN reported.
The storm was causing air travel problems as 1,906 flights had been canceled and 1,424 flights were delayed on Saturday by midday, according to FlightAware. At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, 29 percent of the destination flights and 35 percent of the original flights were canceled. Other flights at the third-largest airport in the nation were delayed.
Chicago was hit by its first winter storm of the year, starting on Friday night.
Northern Illinois had snowy and icy roads, with the heaviest snow in the northern suburbs, the Chicago Tribune reported. Highwood recorded 8.8 inches of snow and McHenry had 10 inches as of 8:53 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.
In downtown Chicago, more than 5 inches had fallen compared with 4 inches at O’Hare and 3 at Midway, the other major airport.
Forecasters said snow would stop in Northern Illinois but it would be windy and colder from Saturday night into Sunday morning. Temperatures were about 30 in downtown Chicago and in the mid-20s at the airports as of about noon, but will be dropping into the high teens Sunday.
On Friday, the storm slammed Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. At Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Neb., the airport closed for several hours Friday after a Southwest Airlines flight went off a runway into an overrun area while taxiing.
Fifteen inches of snow fell near Heron Lake, Minn., and at least a foot in southeastern South Dakota, southern Minnesota and eastern Wisconsin, the Weather Channel reported.
As the storm moved east, Detroit, Cleveland and Indianapolis were hit by snow and freezing rain.
Light snow was falling in southern states, including western Arkansas, southern Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, including the Dallas area.
Cities on the storm’s southern edge — Houston; Memphis, Tenn., and Jackson, Miss. — had thunder and lightning Saturday. More than 10 million people there face a slight risk of severe weather, including tornadoes.
The Northeast was bracing for up to 2 feet of snow.
Forecasters said a mixture of snow and sleet will begin Saturday afternoon in New York and Philadelphia and turn to rain overnight. In Boston, snow will arrive the afternoon, followed by snow, ice and rain overnight through Sunday.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned tractor-trailers and buses on most highways in the state starting at 3 p.m. And Amtrak was planning a modified schedule Saturday and Sunday.
On Monday, extreme cold is forecast in the Eastern United States, including forecast highs of 11 degrees Fahrenheit in Boston and 14 in New York.
No major electrical outages were reported through the United States, according to Poweroutages.us.