Old Man Winter made his debut in the U.S. on December 21st – the first day of winter and left a lasting impression. A big winter storm system named Draco slowly churned across the country’s mid-section Thursday and Friday, dumping heavy snow and driving gusting winds. Some areas of the nation received well over a foot of snow which complicated travel plans for tens of thousands.
Around 1,000 flights, most at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport were canceled due to snow and ice. That airport’s main terminal was jammed packed with holiday travelers early Friday who were told that many of their flights won’t be leaving until Monday leaving many to face making new holiday arrangements. The storm struck the Midwest on the busiest travel day in America, tangling traffic, causing numerous accidents, spin-outs and downing trees and power lines in hundreds of communities.
Two people were killed in an interstate highway accident in Iowa that was caused by poor road conditions. Dozens of vehicles were involved in the chain-reaction mishap. Following the fatal accident, Iowa state police made an announcement on TV urging motorists to slow down and to stay off the roads unless they had an emergency.
In Upper Michigan, dozens of communities such as Gaylord and Ishpeming were digging out from over a foot of snow Friday morning. Numerous Michigan schools were closed and utility workers were working overtime trying to clear downed tree limbs and power lines that cut power to several communities as temperatures dipped into the teens. Residents and business owners in Milwaukee located along the lake were faced with cleaning up heavy, slushy snow Thursday. On Friday, those snowy weary Wisconsinites were disheartened to discover that the walkways, parking lots and driveways were once again in need of attention as they were then covered in several inches of ice as the snow turned to rain overnight.
Draco is zeroing in on the East this weekend and while the system is not expected to dump as much snow there as it did in the Midwest, many eastern states are bracing for several inches of snow and high gusting winds. The National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings form parts of northern and western New England and eastern New York for Saturday as more than 6 inches of snow is being forecast along with strong gusts of wind.