Storm socks US Midwest, cancels flights, closes roads

A powerful, gusty storm dumped mounds of snow across the upper Midwest.

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2010, 08:54 AM IST

Chicago: A powerful, gusty storm dumped mounds of snow across the upper Midwest on Sunday, closing major highways in several states, cancelling more than 1,600 flights in Chicago and collapsing the roof of the Minnesota Vikings` stadium.

At least four weather-related deaths were reported as the storm system dropped nearly 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and marched east. A blizzard warning was in effect Sunday for parts of eastern Iowa, southeastern Wisconsin, northwestern Illinois and northern Michigan, according to the National Weather Service. Surrounding areas, including Chicago, were under winter storm warnings. Much of Iowa was under a wind-chill advisory.

In Minneapolis, the heavy snow left the Metrodome decidedly unready for some football. Video inside the stadium aired by Fox Sports showed the inflatable Teflon roof sagging before it tore open, dumping massive amounts of snow across one end of the playing field.

No one was hurt but the Vikings` game against the New York Giants had to be moved to Detroit`s Ford Field. The day of the game had already been pushed back from Sunday to Monday because the storm kept the Giants from reaching Minneapolis on time. Stadium officials were trying to repair the roof in time for the Vikings` next home game, December 20 against Chicago.

The wintry weather, with blowing snow that severely limited visibility, wreaked havoc on air and road travel. In the Chicago area, wind gusts of up to 50 mph, temperatures in the teens and wind chills well below zero were expected, along with up to 8 inches of snow.

At least 1,375 flights were cancelled at O`Hare International Airport and more than 300 were cancelled at Midway International Airport, Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride said. Both airports expected more cancellations and reported significant delays.

Officials at O`Hare set up about 200 cots and will provide amenity kits containing toothpaste and toothbrushes in case travellers get stranded at the airport, Pride said.

Major highways in several states were closed due to poor driving conditions and accidents.

In Indianapolis, police said a man fatally stabbed his wife, then died four blocks from his home Sunday morning when his vehicle hit a tree after he lost control on a slippery road. Police did not immediately release the names of the couple.

Illinois State Police closed a section of Interstate 80 in the north central part of the state after a multiple-car pileup west of Peru and part of Interstate 55 near Springfield after accidents and reports of zero visibility. No deaths were reported.

Seven vehicles crashed on Interstate 94 about 50 miles west of Milwaukee, prompting authorities to close the westbound lanes. A vehicle lost control on an ice-covered road and slammed into a tree in southeastern Wisconsin, killing 21-year-old Alejandria Abaunza of Chicago and injuring two other people inside.

Bureau Report