Winter storm causes chaos in US Midwest

Season's biggest storm coming

Snow is to start during the Thursday evening commute but the most significant impacts are expected for the Friday morning commute.

The Chicago Department of Aviation reports Friday morning that about 550 flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and about 230 flights were canceled at Chicago's Midway Airport.

Winter weather across the United States over the last several days has killed several people in accidents in the Midwest since Monday, including six in Iowa, two in Missouri and one in Montana, local media in those states reported. The bulk of it will fall during Thursday afternoon and evening, with some lighter snow showers continuing through Friday afternoon.

Ahead of a new storm blasting through the Upper Midwest, 12 states from Montana to OH are heeding winter-weather alerts.

The weather service's warning says "travel will be hard to impossible at times".

Slide-offs and crashes also were reported early Friday. Snow across southern and central MI ranged from 7in on the western side of the state to more than 2in in the Detroit area.

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Both Chicago and Detroit are in the cross hairs of the storm, and widespread flight delays and cancellations are likely at both cities' airports.

Meteorologist Heather Orow, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said the storm is "generally going to be an issue for travel". Driving conditions will be hazardous, if not impossible, in areas stretching past Cleveland.

Some outer suburbs of the Chicago metropolitan area had already reached or were near nine inches of snow Friday afternoon.

We will have to closely monitor this storm within the next 12-24 hours because if it tracks more south, then forecast snow totals will rise.

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed more than 300 plows overnight to clear the city's main roads and Lake Shore Drive for the morning rush, only occasionally hitting some side streets.

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