Snowstorm Slams Midwest

A blustery snowstorm out of Canada brought a frigid, midwinter bonanza for sports enthusiasts in the upper Midwest, while the Rust Belt and Northeast bundled up and braced for a foot of snow or more Saturday.

The strong storm hit the Midwest on Friday; weather warnings popped up from North Dakota to Long Island Sound.

More than 30 accidents were reported in a two-hour span Friday night in Milwaukee County (search), and vehicles had trouble just staying on the roads, said sheriff's dispatcher Anne Kroncke.

"Lots of accidents. It's widespread," Kroncke said. "We also have vehicles that are spinning off the road due to the icy, slippery conditions."

Winds up to 25 mph were forecast along with the snow.

"Basically it's your normal winter wonderland driving," said Pierce County sheriff's dispatcher Holly Chumas.

Snowmobilers were in ecstasy. With up to 12 inches forecast in the far north, the snowstorm was the icing on the cake of one of the best seasons in years, said Al Andreotti, president of the Cross Country Cruisers (search) snowmobile club in Minocqua.

"Every trail in the area is just awesome right now," Andreotti said.

Parts of Minnesota got blanketed Friday night, stalling rush-hour traffic in the Twin Cities and shutting down Interstate 94 and other highways in western Minnesota because of zero visibility. Just a single runway of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (search) was open by 6 p.m., and more than 200 flights were canceled.

In eastern North Dakota, where 6 inches of snow and wind gusts approaching 50 mph were expected, blowing snow and icy roads made driving difficult. "Everybody from every direction says the roads are terrible," said Jessie Puppe, manager of a West Fargo truck stop.

New Jersey and areas around New York City expected up to 15 inches of snow over the weekend. Several areas to the west expected less snow, but some, such as southwestern Ohio, already had several inches on the ground from earlier storms.

Even at the Hidden Valley Resort in Vernon, N.J., there was apprehension, despite the prospect of good skiing conditions.

"It's great for morale and gets a lot of people interested in skiing, but a snowfall like that over the weekend hurts our cash registers because people aren't getting in their cars and coming out here," general manager John Shema said.

Bitter cold already closed schools Friday in central New York and hampered road-clearing efforts. Early morning temperatures dipped as low as minus 15 in Ithaca, and Syracuse's low of 11 below zero beat the date's previous record of 8 below, set in 1984.

"It actually hurts — I mean, breathing actually hurts," Syracuse schools spokesman Neil Driscoll told AP Radio. "It's such a drastic change to just step outside with a minus 15 degree actual temperature and a wind chill that ranges somewhere from 20 to 30 below."

The approaching storm was expected to bring strong wind to areas around New York City along with heavy snow, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard warning along the Long Island Sound.

The snow could fall as fast as 2 inches an hour in Pennsylvania, which could get up to 10 inches.