Blizzard Sweeps Over Midwest

Up to foot of snow snarls traffic, disrupts flights

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 20, 2012 7:13 AM CST

(Newser) – The Midwest has officially been hit by its first big winter storm of the year, spurring blizzard warnings in seven of the region's states. School has been canceled throughout Nebraska and Iowa, where drivers have been instructed to, well, not drive, reports the AP. Up to a foot of snow has already fallen in Des Moines, and "thundersnow" may strike the Milwaukee area, reports to USA Today. The heaviest snow is expected across a swath extending from northwest Missouri into Milwaukee, Chicago, and Michigan. "It's a pretty nasty storm," one meteorologist tells Reuters.

"We've had snow before," pooh-poohed one general store manager in Iowa. "Iowans know what to expect. We're used to it." But with the Christmas travel season getting under way, flight delays and cancellations could compound the headache. Chicago, home to the country's second-busiest airport, is gearing up for major disruptions. Already Delta and United are allowing travelers to change their flights without incurring fees. Interesting side note: Before this storm, Chicago hadn't seen snow in 290 days, reports the Tribune, and a number of Midwestern cities had broken records for the number of consecutive days without measurable snow.

The forecast for noon, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012 shows a strong winter storm will bring blizzard conditions to portions of the Northwest as well as heavy rain to portions of the Northeast.   (AP Photo/Weather Underground)
This NOAA satellite image taken today at 1:45 am EST shows strong low pressure moving through the Mississippi Valley with heavy rain, thunderstorms, and snow for northern portions of system.   (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)
Elementary school students, some escorted by parents, cross a snowy street en route to school as a blizzard dropped snow over Boulder, Colo., yesterday. That storm has headed east, to the Midwest.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Blowing snow reduces vision as motorists wait for a light change in Lawrence, Kan., earlier today.   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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