CHICAGO – A slow-moving winter storm blanketed a large swath of the Plains and Midwest in snow Sunday, forcing the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights, making roads treacherous and forcing some people to rethink their plans to attend Super Bowl parties.
Blizzard conditions developed in Chicago — where more than a foot was expected by evening — and other Midwest locales as the system slowly crept eastward into Pennsylvania and western New York state. Parts of New England still digging out from a storm early last week were bracing for yet another round of snow to arrive Sunday and last through Monday.
Here's the outlook:
The snowstorm was expected to be the most far-reaching of the season to date, stretching from Nebraska to Maine, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters also said the storm was moving unusually slowly, meaning accumulations of between 10 to 14 inches of snow are possible for parts of northern Illinois, Indiana and northwest Ohio. Similar amounts of snow are expected for the Northeast later Sunday and throughout Monday.
"It's not wise to travel, unless you have an emergency," said David Beachler a National Weather Service meteorologist in Chicago.
Craig Owens, an English professor at Drake University, was one of the many Midwest residents who spent the morning shoveling their driveways.
"I'm not going to make it the gym anyway, so I've got to get a workout somehow," said Owens, whose home in Des Moines, Iowa, got about 10 inches of snow.
TRAVEL AND OUTAGES
More than 1,500 flights were canceled in the Midwest, the vast majority of which were flights in or out of Chicago's two airports.
Chicago's Department of Aviation said about 1,100 departing flights were canceled from O'Hare International Airport and 200 at Midway International Airport. At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, nearly 200 departing flights were canceled, and more delayed. About 20 flights were canceled from Omaha's Eppley Airfield.
The winds — gusts up to 45 mph were expected in the Chicago area — made road travel tricky too.
The Illinois Department of Transportation dispatched 350 trucks to clear and salt Chicago-area roadways through the evening and ahead of Monday's morning rush hour. In eastern Nebraska, several sections of Interstate 80 were closed Sunday due to traffic accidents in the icy conditions.
The weather led to power outages Sunday, including roughly 18,000 ComEd customers in the Chicago metro area. The weather cut power to nearly 8,000 northern Indiana homes and businesses.
SUPER BOWL PARTY SPOILER?
The most intense period of snow in the Midwest was expected to hit Sunday evening, right around game time, meaning the roads could be treacherous for those heading to Super Bowl parties. Potential wind gusts of up to 40 mph were expected, so drivers could face terrible visibility and snarling snow drifts.
Several of the Chicago area's top tourist attractions closed early Sunday because of the weather, including the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Brookfield Zoo.
The city's pizzerias, though, were expecting heavy demand for deliveries during the game. And bars hosting Super Bowl parties said they wouldn't let the weather spoil their plans.
Kathi Kreger, manager at Brendan's Pub, a Patriots' bar on the city's North Side, said locals would still trudge through the snow for the festivities.
"We're used to this," she said.
In the southeastern Wisconsin city of New Berlin, meanwhile, sports bar Matty's Bar & Grill was preparing for a strong turnout, despite the weather.
"Here in Wisconsin, with the snow, we're pretty used to it," general manager Mark Lombardo said. "Lots of folks have the big four-wheel trucks. The snow doesn't really slow them down."
Parts of New England were still recovering Sunday from a blizzard early last week that buried the region in snow, including a record 34.5 inches that fell in Worcester, Massachusetts, where dump trucks and front-end loaders had to be brought in to move snow.
The Monday and Tuesday storm dumped two feet of snow on Boston and 19 inches on Providence, Rhode Island. Another foot or so could spell particular trouble for snow-clearing operations in Boston's narrow streets.
The weather service said that many parts of New England could get between 8 and 14 inches of snow and that parts of western Massachusetts and Connecticut could get as much as 16 inches.
A winter storm warning was in effect for New York City starting at 7 p.m. Sunday and was expected to remain in effect until 6 p.m. Monday.
Meanwhile, southern Vermont was expected to get its first flakes at about 3 a.m. Monday, and snow should start falling in Concord, New Hampshire, and Portland, Maine, a few hours later.