Major Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc on Travel

January 20, 2019 Updated: January 20, 2019

BOSTON—A major winter storm that has brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season covered a large swath of the United States in snow as it wreaked havoc on air travel and caused slick road conditions throughout New England on Jan. 20.

Nearly 5,000 flights were canceled Sunday around the country, with Boston Logan Airport being one of the hardest hit, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company. The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings or advisories for part or all of at least 15 states stretching from southeast Missouri to the northern tip of Maine.

The storm was caused by the clash of an Arctic high-pressure system with a low-pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Hofmann.

Carter Martin shovels a sidewalk
Carter Martin working at Maplefields store and gas station in Plainfield, Vt., on Jan. 20, 2019. (Lisa Rathke/AP)

“It happens that this one is going through a relatively high population area,” Hofmann said.

Parts of northern New England could see up to 2 feet of snow, which will be followed Sunday night by bitter cold and wind chills as low as 35 below zero in parts of Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. Parts of upstate New York got up to 11 inches of snow overnight, according to the Weather Channel.

Some New Englanders welcomed the fresh snow. Nicholas Nicolet and his 6-year-old son Rocco got outside early Sunday morning to enjoy the snow in Montpelier, Vermont, as they cross-country skied on the city’s sidewalks during the storm.

“We think it’s great,” said Nicolet, who said he and his son were out the door by 7 a.m.

Nicholas Nicolet and his son Rocco cross-country ski
Nicholas Nicolet and his son Rocco cross-country ski in Montpelier, Vt., on Jan. 20, 2019. (Lisa Rathke/AP)

The system dumped up to 10 inches of snow on parts of the Midwest on Saturday.

A plane carrying 129 people skidded from a slick runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport Saturday. No injuries were reported on the United Airlines flight as it arrived from Phoenix, Chicago Fire officials said.

Bill Moore cross-country skis down a street on Jan. 20
Bill Moore cross-country skis down a street in Montpelier, Vt., on Jan. 20, 2019. (Lisa Rathke/AP)

In Kansas, a snowplow driver was killed when the plow drove onto the shoulder of a road and rolled over, throwing him under the vehicle. It wasn’t clear why the driver had moved to the shoulder from the roadway.

A 15-vehicle crash on slippery roads blocked a section of Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri near Ste. Genevieve Saturday afternoon and drivers were urged to find an alternative route. In Detroit, many motorists were moving well below posted speed limits due to slushy conditions along freeways. Amtrak canceled some trains Saturday from Chicago to Washington and New York and between New York and Boston and Pennsylvania on Sunday.

As the storm system moves east, the frigid Arctic air behind it was expected to envelop many parts of the Midwest where it had just snowed.

“The air that it is bringing down with it is very, very cold,” Hofmann said.

Airline baggage carts sit on the tarmac as crews prepare to remove snow at the Albany International Airport on Jan. 20
Airline baggage carts on the tarmac as crews prepare to remove snow at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, N.Y., on Jan. 20, 2019. (Hans Pennink/AP)

President Donald Trump remarked at how large the storm system was in a tweet early Sunday, urging Americans affected by the winter storm to “be careful.”

“Amazing how big this system is. Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!” Trump tweeted.