Snowstorm sweeps Midwest on its way to New England

Associated Press
Published December 16, 2007

PITTSBURGH - As much as a foot of snow fell from the Plains across the Midwest on Saturday as the second big winter storm in a week barreled through on its way to New England.

Tens of thousands of people still lacked electricity after the first storm slammed Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri earlier in the week. That storm was blamed for at least 38 deaths, mostly in traffic accidents.

By Saturday morning, Oklahoma utilities said about 181,000 homes and businesses still had no electricity. About 62,000 were still blacked out in Kansas, and Missouri utilities reported about 27,000 customers still off line.

Winter storm warnings and watches extended Saturday from Missouri across parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, the National Weather Service said. As much as 15 inches of snow were forecast in sections of southern Michigan, with 10 inches possible in Detroit.

Snow started falling early in the afternoon in Pittsburgh, accumulating to about an inch before tapering off by late afternoon. Rain and freezing rain were expected later.

Areas to the north and east of the city could see as much as 12 inches through Sunday night, according to the Weather Service.

More than 200 flights were canceled because of the weather Saturday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, and all other flights were delayed an hour, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokesman Gregg Cunningham. The problem was limited visibility in the falling snow, said United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski.

Residents across New England packed stores to stock up before getting slammed. The winter weather earlier in the week caught many people unawares, stranding commuters and school buses as it made some of the nation's busiest highways impassable.

Oklahoma, hardest hit by the earlier storm, got only cold, light rain early Saturday, turning to snow during the morning. One to 3 inches of snow was forecast.

Neighboring Kansas, however, had as much as a foot of snow Saturday morning, and the Highway Patrol reported Interstate 70 in central Kansas was snow-packed.

"We've had no fatalities or pileups, but we have numerous slideoffs," said Mary Beth Anderson, a patrol dispatcher.

More than 2,300 people were in Kansas shelters Saturday because of the power failures and the fresh snow, said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the state Adjutant General's Department.