Massive winter storm: Chicago socked by blizzard; millions could be affected
Snow falls on the Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago's Millennium Park.
February 1st, 2011
09:44 AM ET

Massive winter storm: Chicago socked by blizzard; millions could be affected

A massive snowstorm is raging across the U.S. heartland. The weather will affect areas from New England to New Mexico, and travelers should brace for as many as four days of serious storm conditions, said CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano. Travel will probably be difficult if not impossible in many areas, the National Weather Service warns.

Share your snow images with CNN iReport. Follow @CNNTravel on Twitter for the latest updates.

[Update 11 p.m. ET]  Blizzard warnings were up Tuesday night in eight states - from Kansas to Ohio. The storm system formed an arc that was centered in the Great Lakes region and stretched from northeastern Kansas in the west to the edge of Chesapeake Bay in the east. The stem of the storm brought needed rain to much of the Southeast, but unwelcome ice and hard freeze warnings in other places, as far south as Corpus Christi, Texas. Parts of the Florida Panhandle, southwestern Georgia and southeastern Alabama were under tornado watches.

[Update 10:20 p.m. ET] At Chicago's Wrigley Field, a panel of the roof above the press box was damaged by the extreme winds accompanying Tuesday night's blizzard, said Peter Chase, Chicago Cubs media relations director. Part of the fiber board panel broke away, and the Cubs are working with the city to ensure there aren't any public safety issues. Police have roped off various streets and sidewalks as a precaution. 

[Update 10 p.m. ET] Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago is shut down due to blizzard conditions, according to the Chicago Police Department. Get details from CNN affiliate WLS.

[Update 8 p.m. ET] The National Weather Service forecasts and advisories through Wednesday night read like the Abominable Snow Monster's Christmas list: Up to 14 inches of snow in South Bend, Indiana, with winds up to 30 mph; gusts of up to 38 mph in Saginaw, Michigan, with wind chills of 10 below zero the next two nights; as much as 13 inches of new snow in Berlin, New Hampshire, by Wednesday night; hard freeze warnings in Houston and Galveston, Texas. In Illinois, all major thoroughfares from I-70 and further north were covered with - or had patches of - ice and snow, according to the state Department of Transportation.

[Update 7 p.m. ET] Quincy, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb of 92,000 residents, budgeted $750,000 for snow removal this fiscal year. Before this week’s storm it had already spent double that amount, and the city expects it’ll triple its original allotment by the end of the week.   “Snow, you don’t skimp on. You have to do it,” said Chris Walker, director of policy and information for the city. 

[Update 5:15 p.m. ET] In Ohio's Miami Valley, freezing rain led to power outages, with about 200 reported before 4 p.m., Dayton Power and Light told CNN affiliate WHIO-TV. With winds forecast to pick up in the evening, the utility was preparing for more. The massive storm was forecast to spawn snow, ice and bitter cold from New Mexico to Maine. Forecasters said as many as 100 million people in the United States will feel its effects.

[Update 4:15 p.m. ET]  More than 1,300 flights were canceled at the O'Hare airport in Chicago on Tuesday. Few flights, if any, are expected to operate out of the airport on Wednesday, said Karen Pride, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation. United Airlines, Continental Airlines and American Airlines are suspending operations at the airport after 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

[Update 2:50 p.m. ET] Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe has declared a State of Emergency as winter storms hit.

[Update 2:30 p.m. ET] A large tent that was scheduled to shelter partiers Friday and Saturday at Super Bowl XLV has collapsed under the weight of ice and snow, CNN affiliates are reporting.

[Update 2:20 p.m. ET] An ice storm warning was issued in Indianapolis. Roads will become impassable, and widespread, long-duration power outages are likely, officials said.

[Update 2 p.m. ET] The Tulsa, Oklahoma, National Weather Service Forecast Office recorded 12.3 inches of snow accumulation as of noon Central time on Tuesday. That makes this week's storm the largest in Tulsa's history. The largest snow storm occurred in March of 1994 when 12.9 inches of snow fell on the city. Moderate to heavy snow is still falling.

[Update 1:30 p.m. ET] The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety reports numerous vehicles stranded on the Will Rogers Turnpike in northeastern Oklahoma. The National Guard is rescuing people that are stranded in their vehicles on the turnpike, the department said. The turnpike is closed to all traffic.

[Update 1:15 p.m. ET] Dozens of flights for Wednesday are already canceled at Kansas City International Airport. Ice and snow is sweeping across the Plains.

Watch how 100 million people could be affected by the storm.

[Update 12:25 p.m. ET] A partial roof collapse at Hard Rock Casino has occurred near Tulsa, Oklahoma. No injuries have been reported.

- In Northwest Ohio, Interstate 75 is closed due to ice and wrecks.

- The roof of a lumber company has reportedly collapsed in Grand Haven, Michigan.

[Update 11:55 a.m. ET] Chicago is expected to get two feet of snow in the next 24 hours, according to the Chicago Tribune - that's more dire than what was reported earlier Tuesday. The National Weather Service is describing the storm as "potentially life-threatening" for people who venture outdoors. Winds in and near the city could gust up to 60 mph, the NWS says. Power outages are likely. Hundreds of flights at O'Hare airport have been reportedly canceled. The Chicago Weather Center is tracking.

- Several roads and highways in Oklahoma are closed, KOTV reports.

[Update 11:30 a.m. ET] Dallas Fort Worth International Airport has reopened one runway, according to airport spokesman David Magana. The airport has a total of seven runways. It was closed Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. due to ice. Magana says DFW officials are expecting 400 to 500 flight cancellations today. Normal air traffic for DFW is 800 daily flights.

- Wind chills in Omaha, Nebraska, are expected to reach -25 degrees overnight with actual highs only in the single digits on Wednesday, KETV reports.

[Update 11:10 a.m. ET] Detroit officials are saying it could be the worst snow storm to strike since 2005 when 12.2 inches fell. Seven to 12 inches of snow is expected to fall across metro Detroit late Tuesday night and into Wednesday.  The record is 24.5 inches set April 6, 1886. For a comprehensive look at conditions, click here.

- Four states are under a state of emergency and have called in the National Guard. They are  Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Illinois.

[10:55 a.m. ET] Four thousand flights have been canceled due to the bad weather. Eight states have active blizzard warnings. In Oklahoma, snow is falling at 2 to 3 inches per hour.

[10:47 a.m. ET] Dallas Cowboys stadium sacked with snow. Road conditions in Dallas are terrible in these few days left before Super Bowl XLV happens at the stadium in Arlington.

[10:40 a.m. ET] Tornado warnings issued for parts of Louisiana.

[Update 10:10 a.m. ET] Sleet is coming down in St. Louis where ice already coats trees, CNN's Reynolds Wolf reports from the Missouri city. Subzero temperatures are expected across the Plains.

- New Yorkers are preparing for snow as mounds already piled on Long Island.

- In Mattapan, Massachusetts, transit authorities tried to clear snow.

- Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has activated the state's emergency operations center.

[9:25 a.m. ET] Ice has closed Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and at least 300 outbound flights were canceled, spokesman David Magana said. Meanwhile, Dallas' Love Field is down to one open runway, according to the FAA.

- Blizzard conditions expected across portions of eight states, from Oklahoma to Michigan. Winds gusting up to 40 mph are predicted.

- Oklahoma is under a state of emergency, and Missouri has mobilized 600 National Guard troops to help cope with the storm.

- Chicago is going to get hit hard, forecasters said. Combined snow totals through Wednesday may exceed a foot and a half across much of northern Illinois and far northwest Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.

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Filed under: Weather • Winter weather
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. gerald

    i wanna know how hillary clinton can go on tv and criticize egypt for not allowing internet access to all egyptians, but the u.s. does not allow internet access to cuba? is the u.s. 2-faced again???

    February 1, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • sarahp

      Hey Gerald - maybe Hillary can start doing weather reports eh?

      February 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ernie

    Tell Rob Marciano that the Chicago River does not flow towards the lake. It was one of the major engineering feats in America when the flow of the Chicago River was reversed.

    February 1, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  3. David, Los Angeles, CA

    KS Gov. Sam Brownback declares state of emergency.......due to his election.

    February 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve Green Bay

    The Packers will win the Super Bowl 42-10. Winter is far from over.

    February 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Army gal

      I think you got the score right, except it will be reversed. Green Bay will lose. C'mon he would've lost to Chicago had they put in Hanie in the 1st qtr. Rodgers has no right being in the Superbowl, being shown up by a third string QB.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • shoo

      Steelers baby!

      February 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • utah mattress

      good ol' fashioned winter, nothing wrong with it.

      February 2, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jon

    I really cannot believe the media drama with regard to the tiny snow storm we are having. At least the local weather reporters are making fun of the national news for creating this drama. It is a snow storm, we have been here before. I have dug out cars, doors, alleys, etc.. We live in the Midwest! If you do not know how to handle snow or cannot cope with it, move!

    February 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      That's exactly what i was thinking! lets all panic because we are getting snow like we always do!!! and the windchill is going to be in the negatives? thats no surprise. i can understand making a big deal about the snow if you live somewhere that does not get snow and hence doesnt have equipment to remove the snow.

      February 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • mikeyd74

      I hear you guys. In central Ill here, and this is just run of the mill... maybe the winds a bit stronger but meh... you live with it and dig out the next day no biggie. I do love how the radio and t.v. personalities make it sound like doomsday. i cant help but laugh

      February 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Living in a Midwest small town or suburb is one thing, but in Chicago, there is a serious problem right now. Sitting in idle on Lakeshore Drive is common during rush hour – Add one bad bus driver flipping over and blocking 3 lanes, plus unwise authorities shutting down highways without providing drivers an alternate route and the result is people stuck in the same place for 6 hours and counting – maybe not doomsday, but a big step beyond 'meh'.

      February 2, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • jeremy must feel pretty stupid right now. No denying this storm at this point.

      February 2, 2011 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. cathie kentfield

    I just watched Ali and the weather guy talk about having to use your gas to keep warm if stranded in a car...when I lived in Minnesota I learned the importance of keeping emergency supplies, especially candles and matches...PLEASE share with your viewers that the heat from a single candle can keep you alive in your car!!!

    February 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rockyroad

    Help your viewers. Don't just report the awesome weather and terrible repercussions.

    If you must go out in your car, bring your cell phone, join AAA (Automobile Association of America) because they will provide you with emergency assistance if you can call them on your cell phone, bring along a blanket, water and food (candy bars, gorp), bring along a candle ( a candle puts out significant warmth in the event you are stuck in a car with no heat), bring along a book, you may be stuck for a while, put a sand bag or bag of mulch and a small shovel in your trunk, the weight will give you better traction and the sand or whatever may help you get out of a hole if your car gets stuck. Bring along a cup, if you're stuck for a long time, you can melt snow into to (using your candle – don't forget matches) for water. These simple measures have saved lives.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rockyroad

    Obviously, dress in layers, wool socks (NO COTTON), heavy shoes and a wool hat. You lose 20% of your heat through you head. If you have them, bring along hand warmers (little packets you crack and they provide heat for up to ten hours). Aside from blanket but including the sand bag, this safety kit will fit in a backpack. (Also bring a flashlight and an extra set of batteries).

    CNN is reporting the potential horrors. Plan ahead and you've got very little to fear. You can handle it.
    – even if you keep the pack in the trunk, keep your cell phone, book and flashlight within reaching distance.).

    February 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. thomas the perl

    winter will continue on accounta that the groundhog will not see his shadow – long live ground hog day in the middle of a massive storm – keep warm!

    February 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rose-lyn

    come on guys....we've been having snow storms nothing like this up here in Canada.....two years ago we had 12 feet of snow....we could not see our next door neighbors and even our truck and plow got stuck....just make sure you follow those wise suggestions up above and have all necessities in your vehicle if you have to go out and get stranded......or better yet, stay the $%*& home !!

    February 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cesar

    42-12, Packers? Wo, somebody has a cracked crystal ball.

    February 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. maryquitecontrary

    I want to know when will news reporters and the weather advisors ask the question WHY are we having this weird weather patterns? All there is coverage of another winter storm forecasts, impacts from the winter storms, and lessons on how to better respond to the next storm [which comes every 2-3 days]. So that covers what, where, when, and how from the famous reporter questions one's ask.

    When will someone start asking why is this all happening? Is it b/c the water that melted from the glaciers and ice bergs entered into the water cycle now comes back as falling precipitation during all upcoming seasons? Is it a natural geological cycle heading towards another ice age? Or could it be a consequence of climate change (not just global warming) that we don't want to face?

    February 1, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aeria

      Northern oscellation. The jet stream is a lot further south than normal, and it's bringing in all this much colder weather than we've gotten used to over the last two decades. If it weren't for the jet stream, we'd probably be having a much milder winter thanks to La Nina over in the Pacific. Sorry, not climate change or greenhouse effect here. Simple weather mechanics account for this winter.

      And honestly? This winter reminds me of winter in the 1970's and early 1980's. Lots of snow. I remember in '85 or '86, we had a blizzard in Nebraska that literally stacked the snow 6-7 feet deep. They could only plow out one lane of the highway with little dips so that cars could duck in and let others pass. But memories of that kind of weather fade quickly.

      February 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Willy Ens

    Yes!.... Finally!.... I have been waiting for this opportunity for my life time! The Sputnik moment for ..“US”.. to save our Earth!

    My reaction to Global Warming! check out my blog about this at;

    And my website about the innovation that will save us all is at;

    February 1, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pokeronthery

    Maybe the boys will be skating through the big game
    NFL hockey style

    February 1, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sharriqagirl

    I wants 2 by a minni repleka ov CLOUDE GATE sculpter fo pimpz grillz

    February 1, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
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