Storm heads to Northeast as holiday travel chaos continues
People shovel snow out their cars Thursday in Madison, Wisconsin.
A winter storm headed east Friday after pounding the Plains and Midwest with more than a foot of snow, causing holiday travel chaos with hundreds of canceled flights and closed roads.
The storm, which has been blamed for at least six deaths in five states, was carrying heavy rain and high winds into the Northeast, leaving Friday morning commuters and holiday travelers facing daunting trips.
Airlines have been forced to cancel more than 1,000 flights, and whiteout conditions have left roads dangerous to drive on. Parts of Iowa and Wisconsin were hit with more than a foot of snow.
The National Weather Service issued numerous warnings of potentially dangerous weather, with winds in much of the Northeast gusting as high as 60 mph. Flood and high-wind warnings have been issued for parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The storm, part of a system that began in the Rockies earlier in the week, led airlines to cancel more than 1,000 flights and caused whiteout conditions that left roads dangerous to drive on. It was blamed for deaths in at least five states, with parts of Iowa and Wisconsin hit with more than a foot of snow.
Significant airport delays at major Northeast hubs could be triggered by the storm's combination of low clouds, rain and strong winds. With the storm's low still spinning near the region airport delays due to strong winds could continue on Saturday from New York City to Washington, according to Weather.com.
Snow belts around the Great Lakes and Appalachians are likely to continue to see wind-whipped snow that could top 1 foot in many areas, Weather.com reported.
While some people went to work on digging themselves out even as the storm continued Thursday, others had less control: They were stuck waiting for word of new flight times.
Most of the canceled flights were in Chicago, where aviation officials said more than 350 flights were called off at O'Hare International Airport and more than 150 at Midway International Airport, The Associated Press reported.
Southwest Airlines, which canceled all of its flights out of its Midway hub after 4:30 p.m. Thursday, was anticipating normal operations Friday morning in Chicago. United Airlines also planned to operate a full schedule, though spokeswomen for both airlines cautioned travelers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.
Erin Henderson was among the people hoping to get out of O'Hare Friday morning.
The 20-year-old college student was trying to return home to Kansas City after five months of studying abroad in Italy when she arrived in Chicago early Thursday evening to learn the last leg of her flight had been canceled, The AP said.
Exhausted and teary-eyed, Henderson said she planned to get some sleep in a nearby hotel before trying to catch a flight to St Louis early Friday. She said her father planned to drive across Missouri to get her.
"It was the closest I can get," Henderson told the AP.
The storm made travel difficult from Kansas to Wisconsin, forcing road closures, including a 120-mile stretch of Interstate 35 from Ames, Iowa, through Albert Lea, Minn. Iowa and Wisconsin activated National Guard troops to help rescue stranded drivers.
In the Northeast, the most serious commuting challenges Friday were expected along the Interstate 95 corridor from Philadelphia to Boston.
After the rain departs these areas through late morning and early afternoon Friday, gusty winds will continue across the Northeast, Weather.com reported, and the gusts could bring power outages.
NBCNewYork.com reported heavy overnight rainfalls and it warned that temperatures were likely to drop Friday evening and into the weekend.
After a night of heavy rains, NBCChicago.com warned of the chance of slick roads and snow flurries for morning commuters.
In the Plains and Midwest, those hit by heavy snows were digging out and trying to get on their way after travel disruptions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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