Millions under blizzard warning as winter storm impacts holiday travel
Thousands of flights were canceled or delayed and 14 million people were under a blizzard warning Sunday as a storm brought snow, wind and rain to large stretches of the Midwest on a major Thanksgiving holiday travel day.
Kansas City International Airport was closed to flights arriving on the airfield due to low visibility caused by weather conditions and limited visibility under a quarter-mile, according to an airport tweet.
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration for the state and officials said road conditions were “treacherous” in some areas.
“We strongly recommend that you postpone travel plans, if possible; however, if you must be on the road, make sure your vehicle’s emergency kit is stocked, your gas tank is full and your cell phone and charger are with you and someone knows your travel plans,” the declaration reads.
Multiple roads are closed because of whiteout conditions, according to the KanDrive website.
There were reports of snow as high as 16 inches in parts of Iowa (Osceola), with other areas reporting 3 inches to 10 inches. Baileyville, Kansas, notched 10 inches and 7 inches fell in Salina, Kansas.
The weather system was forecast to move into the Great Lakes region before hitting the Northeast on Monday, according to CNN meteorologist Haley Brink.
Due to the addition of Cook County, Illinois, the number of people under blizzard warnings jumped from 8 million to 14 million. The National Weather Service office in Chicago said the worst will come late Sunday.
Nearly 20 million people were under a high-wind advisory. This includes residents of Kansas and some in parts of Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa.
Fort Hays State University student Brooks Barber captured the blizzard conditions in Hays, Kansas, on Sunday morning. Streets were dark, and many were without power, he said.
The National Weather Service’s Topeka office posted a video of near-blizzard conditions.
Whiteout conditions brought low visibility to the small town of Chariton, Iowa, which is an hour south of Des Moines.
The region could see whiteouts and slick roads throughout Sunday, making travel difficult if not impossible at times, Brink said. “It’s pretty treacherous travel conditions,” she said.
Forecasts say snowfall totals of 6 to 10 inches are possible across the Midwest. Some areas could receive as much as a foot of snow within the next 24 to 36 hours.
By Monday, Brink said, the storm will have moved into the Northeast. Parts of New England could see snow, while cities along the coast are forecast to receive heavy rain. Sustained winds of between 30 and 45 mph are anticipated in some areas, with the possibility of 65 mph gusts.
The storm’s impacts have been felt already by travelers on the final days of the Thanksgiving holiday rush. Nearly 1,200 US flights had been canceled by Sunday evening, with delays to 4,200 flights, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware. Most were at Chicago’s O’Hare International and Midway airports and Kansas City.
And an approximately 60-mile stretch of Interstate 70 in Kansas has been closed, according to a tweet from the state’s Department of Transportation, from WaKeeney to Russell.