(CNN)Thousands of flights were canceled or delayed and 14 million people were under a blizzard warning Sunday as a storm brought snow, wind and rain to large stretches of the Midwest on a major Thanksgiving holiday travel day.
Blizzard conditions in Hays, KS this morning. Many without power #kswx @LisaTeachman @KSNNews @KWCH12 @KAKEnews @NWSDodgeCity @weatherchannel pic.twitter.com/EKtEpXvkwD
“Its going to be messy,” said Todd Kluber, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service who is based in suburban Chicago.
With much of the central Plains and Great Lakes region under blizzard or winter storm warnings, around 1,200 flights headed to or from the U.S. had been canceled as of 6 p.m. Sunday, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.
Most were supposed to be routed through Chicago or Kansas City — areas forecast to be hit hard by the storm.
Strong winds and snow created blizzard conditions across much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. The National Weather Service was warning those conditions would make travel difficult in places.
Over 800 flights cancelled as major winter storm hits Chicago area
By midday, the blizzard warning was extended to parts of eastern Illinois near Chicago, where snow is forecast to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour.
Expect travel delays Sunday night through Monday morning
Other parts of the central Plains and Great Lakes region were under a winter storm warning that could see a foot or more of snow dumped in some places by the end of the day.
Because of the narrow band of heavy snow, its possible that some locations could have no snow and within a 10-mile radius south or east could have a few inches on the ground.
In eastern Nebraska, part of Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha was closed Sunday morning because of multiple accidents after snow blanketed that area. That included semitrailer trucks jackknifed across the highway. It was re-opened by Sunday afternoon.
City declares snow emergency; winter storm warning in effect
In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a state of emergency declaration. The action came as a large stretch of Interstate 70, spanning much of the state, was closed between Junction City and WaKeeney.
MADISON (WKOW) — A winter storm will begin pushing through parts of southern Wisconsin by mid-morning Sunday.
As much as a foot was expected in Chicago. Between 4 to 6 inches of snow was expected in the Kansas City area. Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa.
Up to 8 inches of snow possible as winter storm nears mid-Michigan
Kluber said the storm was expected to hit the Chicago region sometime Sunday evening. He said rain will give way to heavy snowfall and “near whiteout conditions” that will make for dangerous travel.