A powerful winter storm roared across America’s upper Midwest with high winds and mounds of snow closing roads in several states and grounding more than 1,400 flights in Chicago.
At least four weather-related deaths were reported as the storm system that dumped nearly 2ft of snow in parts of Minnesota and caused the Metrodome’s inflatable Teflon roof to collapse moved east.
A blizzard warning was in effect for parts of eastern Iowa, south-eastern Wisconsin, north-western Illinois and northern Michigan, according to the National Weather Service. Surrounding areas, including Chicago, were under winter storm warnings and much of Iowa was under a wind-chill advisory.
The winter weather, with blowing snow that severely limited visibility, wreaked havoc on air and road travel.
In the Chicago area, wind gusts of up to 50mph, temperatures of minus 11 to minus 7 Celsius, and wind chills well below zero Fahrenheit (minus 18 C) were expected along with up to 8ins of snow.
More than 1,200 flights were cancelled at O’Hare International Airport and more than 250 were cancelled at Midway International Airport. Both airports expected more cancellations and reported significant delays.
Major highways in several states were closed due to poor driving conditions and accidents.
Illinois State Police closed a section of Interstate 80 in the north central part of the state after a multiple-car crash west of Peru.
Seven vehicles crashed on Interstate 94 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 south-eastern Wisconsin, killing 21-year-old Alejandria Abaunza of Chicago and injuring two other people inside.
In western Wisconsin, a 79-year-old man snow-blowing the end of his driveway was killed when a snowplough backed into him. The St Croix County Sheriff’s Department said Clifford Larson, of Woodville, died at the scene.