Fox News Weather Center

Weekly Wrap-Up: Phil Prognosticates Six More Weeks of Winter Following Historic Snowstorm in Midwest

A storm system meeting with a surge of arctic air across the Central states led to the fifth largest snowstorm in Chicago's history early in the week.

The powerful storm system, which created blizzard conditions in the Midwest, swept across two-thirds of United States.

"The storm strengthened dramatically and gave Chicago their biggest snow since last winter, and last winter was known as a very snowy winter there," Chief Forecaster Elliot Abrams said.

More than 19 inches of fresh snowfall struck the Chicago area, creating treacherous travel conditions for motorists and forcing the cancellation of more than 2,400 flights between Sunday and Monday.

Travel along I-80 from Nebraska, Iowa and northern Illinois was impeded by the storm. Whipping winds and blowing snow added to the hazards of snow-covered roads by dangerously reducing visibility. Plow crews were busy clearing windswept snow off roadways even after snowfall ended.

Eastward, Detroit was also slammed by heavy snow, totaling 16.7 inches.

Snow continued to spread over the Northeast Sunday through Monday night, with heavy snow falling across upstate New York and southern New England.

Flights arriving to Boston Logan were delayed on average by more than three hours due to snow and ice, according to the FAA.

"This has been a late snow season in the Northeast, but it's making up for lost time," Abrams said of the recent onslaught of winter storms affecting the region.

The fresh 10 inches of snow in Boston forced the postponement of the Patriots' victory parade until Wednesday. Even with the parade being delayed, officials warned people to be cautious with roads narrowed due to the massive piles up snow left behind the recent onslaught of winter storms.

The Monday snowfall in the Northeast did not deter visitors to the traditional Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

At sunrise on Monday, Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil caught sight of his shadow and officially declared his prediction of six more weeks of winter.

Though Phil calls for winter's grip to hold strong across the entire U.S. for six more weeks, Long Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said the start of spring will not be as harsh as it was last year for the Northeast. While chilly shots will invade the eastern half of the country into March, the cold will be punctuated by mild days.

While the weather calmed following the snowstorm through the middle of the week, a quick-hitting Alberta Clipper added to accumulations across areas of the Midwest Wednesday and the Northeast early Thursday.

Meanwhile, wintry conditions also impact portions of the Southwest. Two pilots died in separate plane crashes amid wintry conditions near Lubbock and Argyle, Texas, authorities said late Wednesday night.

One of the planes hit a Texas TV station tower, killing the pilot and knocking the station off the air.

Icing and windy conditions are potential factors in the crash, Senior Meteorologist Frank Strait said.

The weather conditions were windy with fog and freezing drizzle around the time of the incident, Strait said.

"At the time, a cold front was south of Lubbock, the surface front was roughly from just south of the Midland-Odessa area to just south of Abilene to just east of Wichita Falls," Strait said. "At the time of the crash, surface winds in the area were out of the north-northeast at 21 mph with gusts to 31 mph. A short while later, freezing drizzle began at 7:51 p.m."

A second plane also crashed in Argyle, Texas, on approach to the Denton Enterprise Airport, Fox 4 News in Dallas-Fort Worth reported on its Twitter feed. That incident occurred about 9:00 p.m. local time.

It was raining and 37 F in Denton around the time of the second crash, Strait said. Temperatures may have been at or below freezing where the plane was flying at the time.

Several staff writers and meteorologists contributed to this article.