The first significant snowstorm of the season blanketed some parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous travel conditions and flight delays.
While winter has not officially begun, the shovels and snowblowers were out from South Dakota and southern Minnesota, to Iowa, Wisconsin and northern Illinois. The National Weather Service said the snow would continue in Illinois and Indiana on Saturday, as well as move into Michigan before heading northeast into Canada late Saturday.
About 60 miles northwest of Chicago, the village of Capron had received 14.6 inches by midmorning Saturday, spurring village employee Robert Lukes into action clearing sidewalks with his snowblower in the community of about 1,400 people. He said the snowfall was wet, with a layer of slush underneath that made the work slow-going.
“It’s a typical first snow for us, but it’s a pain in the butt. There’s quite a bit of it and it’s kind of difficult plowing and snowblowing,” he said. “It’s a mess, but things are under control. It’s just another snowstorm in northern Illinois.”
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had 5.4 inches of snow by daybreak Saturday, which forced the cancellation of about 250 flights in and out of the busy airport, according to the tracking website FlightAware.com. Midway International Airport had canceled about 150 flights.
Roads were slushy due to a rain and snow mix around the Chicago area, and some snow totals topped the initial forecast of six to 10 inches. Boone and McHenry counties and adjacent areas of Wisconsin had the most as of 8 a.m. Saturday: 12.5 inches in Woodstock, Illinois, and 11.7 in Roscoe, Illinois, National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley said
It’s not common for the Chicago area’s first snowfall of the season to dump more than six inches, Seeley said.
Temperatures plunged behind the front. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, reached 11 degrees Saturday and the town of Estherville in northern Iowa was even colder at 6 degrees with a wind chill of minus 4, the weather service said.
Southeastern South Dakota got up to 18 inches of snow on Friday, National Weather Service meteorologist Bruce Terry said, while amounts of a foot or more—17 inches in one spot—were common in northern Iowa.
“Some of those amounts are pretty impressive for this time of year,” he added.