Midwest In Deep Freeze After Powerful Storm


snowA powerful storm that unleashed snow and strong winds across the upper Midwest left behind dangerously cold temperatures, promising a new set of challenges for people working to dig out.

The weekend storm closed major highways in several states, canceled more than 1,600 flights in Chicago and collapsed the roof of the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium. At least six weather-related deaths were reported. Nearly 2 feet of snow fell in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin before marching east into Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

Schools in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and other states shut down Monday because of the snow and low temperatures.

That storm was headed northeast toward Canada, according to the National Weather Service, with some snow possible Monday in Michigan and through parts of Pennsylvania and New York. Nearly 2 feet of snow fell in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin during the weekend.

Officials said plunging temperatures and winds could make clearing roads even more difficult and could lead to a slow morning commute, even in places where the storm had passed. With the wind chill, temperatures in some areas were expected to be well below zero.

“With the snow, pretty much the worst of it’s over, but we’re going to get cold temperatures through Tuesday,” said Jim Taggart, National Weather Service meteorologist in Chanhassen, Minn.

He said the weather the region is experiencing is what it “normally would get in January” but not December.

Snow Traps Indiana Motorists

Authorities were working frantically Monday to reach motorists in snow-covered northwest Indiana who were trapped in their cars in biting temperatures.

LaPorte County sheriff’s Deputy Andy Hynek said officials don’t know how many people were stranded, but that some had been stuck for as long as 12 hours and many were in a 10-mile stretch of U.S. 30.

“All the way across U.S. 30 is at a standstill and all of those vehicles are occupied,” Hynek said.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for parts of northern Indiana, where heavy lake effect snow was expected to drop an additional 5 to 10 inches of snow Monday. Overnight temperatures had dipped into the low 20s with wind chills around 5.

Indiana authorities were having a hard time reaching motorists as snow plows struggled with the high drifts and roadways that were clogged with nearly 100 abandoned cars and some jackknifed semitrailers. But the wind was causing the greatest trouble.

“As soon as the plows go through an area, the wind is blowing fresh snow right back into the roads,” state highway department spokesman Jim Pinkerton said. “It is just really difficult for us to keep up against that wind and snow.”

LaPorte and Porter counties issued emergency orders telling drivers to stay off the roads as the area had winds up to 30 mph.

“The problem is people are leaving their houses for reasons that they don’t need to leave,” Hynek said. “That’s why we issued the state of emergency.”

The lake-effect snow in Indiana was separate from the powerful weekend storm that carried snow and high winds across much of the upper Midwest, said National Weather Service meteorologist John Taylor.

In Indianapolis, police said a man fatally stabbed his wife, then died four blocks from his home Sunday morning when his vehicle hit a tree after he lost control on a slippery road. Police did not immediately release the names of the couple.

More Bad Weather to Come in Ohio

Ohio may not have seen the worst from the winter storm that clobbered the upper Midwest with snow and strong winds.

The National Weather Service says parts of northeast Ohio could receive 2 feet or more of additional snow by Tuesday night. The forecasters say wind gusts of up to 45 mph will cause drifting of snow and reduced visibility.

The State Highway Patrol says a pair of weather related crashes killed three people on Sunday. One wreck was in northeast Ohio’s Ashtabula County, the other was in central Ohio’s Licking County.

The weather service reports areas throughout Ohio received anywhere from a trace of snow to more than 5 inches on Sunday. The 2.9 inches that fell in Columbus set a Dec. 12 record for the city.

Travel Woes in Illinois

In the Chicago area, only a few inches of snow fell, but wind gusts of up to nearly 50 mph blew the roof off a building at Navy Pier and sent waves from Lake Michigan crashing onto Lake Shore Drive.

At least 1,375 flights at O’Hare International Airport and more than 300 at Midway International Airport. The cancelations left some travelers stranded overnight at O’Hare, where officials set up about 200 cots.

Anticipated delays were so long that airlines started passing out toothpaste and toothbrushes with their tickets, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.

On Monday, about 75 flights were canceled, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride.

Jordan Ledoux was traveling back to Portland after a visit to Houston when he ended up stuck at O’Hare. He said it was possible he might not get home until Tuesday.

“This is the worst flying experience I’ve ever had,” he told CBS Station WBBM.

Minnesota Digging Out

The sheer volume of snow and vehicles entombed curbside are proving to be a challenge for plow drivers in the Twin Cities

St. Paul public works spokeswoman Shannon Tyree says city snow plow drivers fell behind on their efforts to clear the streets. Tyree says they’re running out of places to put the snow.

In all, the storm dumped 17 inches of snow in 18 hours in Minneapolis, bringing whiteout conditions, closing roads and creating snow drifts five feet high, reports correspondent Liz Collins, of CBS Station WCCO. At one point, it closed a 150-mile stretch of Interstate 90.

It was the fifth biggest snowfall on record for the Twin Cities.

In Minneapolis, heavy snow caused the inflatable roof of the Metrodome to collapse Sunday. Video inside the stadium aired by Fox Sports showed the inflatable Teflon roof sagging before it tore open, dumping massive amounts of snow across one end of the playing field.

No one was hurt, but the Vikings’ game against the New York Giants had to be moved to Detroit’s Ford Field. The day of the game had already been pushed back from Sunday to Monday because the storm kept the Giants from reaching Minneapolis on time. Stadium officials were trying to repair the roof in time for the Vikings’ next home game, Dec. 20 against Chicago.

Airport runways are open and crews are busy melting mountains of snow. Airport spokesman Pat Hogan says they have 42 snow melters, which look like big trash bins. Hogan says the equipment can melt 40 tons of snow per hour. The melted snow is sent down the storm drain.

Brutal Cold Across Bluegrass State

Several inches of snow and arctic cold temperatures blanketed much of Kentucky, slicking roads and prompting school closings.

The heaviest snow fell in eastern Kentucky, where 10 inches were on the ground in Heidelberg, about 50 miles southeast of Lexington in Lee County. Across the rest of the state, snow amounts totaled anywhere from two to five inches.

National Weather Service meteorologist Erin Rau said, the snow is over, but the cold remains.

“We’re probably going to get flurries off and on throughout the day,” Rau said from the service’s Louisville office Monday. “The accumulation won’t amount to much.”

Parts of eastern Kentucky saw 5 inches of snow, including Magoffin, Wolfe and Laurel counties, while 4 inches were seen in Powell County and at Corbin. At the Louisville airport, 2.6 inches of snow fell Sunday and into Monday morning, with a total of about 3 inches on the ground, Rau said.

Senior meteorologist John Jacobean with the National Weather Service in Jackson said temperatures were brutal, with wind chill values Monday morning below zero across most of western Kentucky and in the single digits or slightly higher in the eastern half of the state.

That should ease slightly late Monday, when the winds start to die down, Rau said.

“They’ll slack off a little bit toward the evening,” Rau said.

Rau said temperatures were expected to remain in the low 20s Monday, dropping into the low teens or slightly lower overnight and into Tuesday morning.

The weather prompted closings across the state, with schools in the Louisville area and across western Kentucky calling off classes because of the weather. Both Fort Campbell schools and the sprawling military post on the Kentucky-Tennessee border closed Monday. Blanchfield Army Community Hospital called in only mission essential employees, including health care workers to handle patients and perform surgeries.

Fort Campbell spokeswoman Kelly DeWitt said mission essential and weather essential personnel were expected to report to work at normal times.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet called in snow and ice removal crews early Sunday morning to have their trucks loaded and ready. Crews worked continuously into the Monday morning rush hour.

Roads Shut in Tennessee

Snow and frigid weather have made travel extremely difficult in Middle Tennessee and the precipitation is moving on east, bringing snowfall to the Tennessee Valley.

Forecaster Sam Herron at the National Weather Service office in Old Hickory says an area from Dickson County into Montgomery County has received 5-6 inches of snow as has the northern Cumberland Plateau. There are spots in Fentress and Pickett counties were local reports show 8 inches of snowfall.

Despite light early morning traffic, there were roads shut down temporarily after crashes occurred, at least one involving injury.

A winter storm warning is in effect until noon for the Cumberland Plateau.

The snow is tapering off from the west and Herron says most additional accumulation Monday will be east of Interstate 65.

{CBS News/Matzav.com}