DES MOINES, Iowa A snowstorm that blanketed parts of the Plains and Midwest in snow and ice and forced truckers to take a night off made commuting a grind Friday morning as it slowly moved to the north and east.
Powerful wind gusts churned-up snow and created large drifts on many Midwest roads, making navigating the slick conditions all the more difficult.
Strong gusts off Lake Michigan were making driving treacherous for commuters in eastern Wisconsin, and police and tow trucks were busy responding to fender-benders and spinouts Friday morning.
Chicago’s more than 280 snowplows were busy salting and clearing the city’s streets. Commuters had to slog through slush to get to their offices, some schools closed or were opening late, and a few minor traffic accidents were reported, but the storm didn’t appear to cause any major problems.
About 270 flights in and out of Chicago’s two airports were canceled Friday morning, and inbound flights were being held up by an average of 90 minutes due to the snow and ice, according to the airline tracking website FlightAware.com.
As the storm moved northward and eastward out of the Plains, it left behind some impressive snow totals, including 13 inches in northern Oklahoma, 10 inches near Kansas City, Mo., and 17 inches in Hays, Kansas.
Numerous accidents and two deaths were being blamed on the icy, slushy roads. A medical helicopter crashed early Friday in Oklahoma City, two people on board and injuring a third. It wasn’t immediately clear whether weather factored into the crash. The National Weather Service says conditions were clear and it was 20 degrees when the crash happened.
State legislatures shut down in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa. Most schools were closed in Kansas and Missouri, and many in neighboring states.