(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
CHICAGO (AP) — A winter storm blanketed much of the central Midwest with snow on Sunday at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, bringing blizzard-like conditions that grounded hundreds of flights and forced the closure of major highways on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
“Its going to be messy,” said Todd Kluber, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service who is based in suburban Chicago.
Video: Southeast Wisconsin prepares for first winter storm of the season
Disruptive snow, slippery travel to shift eastward across Great Lakes region into Monday evening
With much of the central Plains and Great Lakes region under blizzard or winter storm warnings, more than 1,200 flights headed to or from the U.S. had been canceled as of 9 p.m. Sunday, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.
Meanwhile, a winter storm warning is in effect for Rock and Walworth counties in the WKOW area. Though, there will likely be a sharp contrast in snow totals from the north side of the counties to the south.
Snow: 1,200+ flights canceled as storm snarls busy post-Thanksgiving Sunday
Most were supposed to be routed through Chicago or Kansas City — areas forecast to be hit hard by the storm.
Shovels needed later Sunday in south and southeast Wisconsin
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.
Computer models are finally in agreement with this storm system’s track, which means confidence has increased that Madison and areas to the north will receive little to no snow at all.
By midday, the blizzard warning was extended to parts of eastern Illinois and Chicago, where snow is forecast to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour.
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.
In eastern Nebraska, part of Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha was closed Sunday morning because of multiple accidents after snow covered that area. That included semitrailer trucks jackknifed across the highway. It was re-opened by Sunday afternoon.
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.
The weather service posted some snowfall totals on Twitter Sunday night. Kansas City International Airport got 5.3 inches of snow, and at least 7 inches of snow was reported in Rockford, Illinois.
As much as a foot was expected in Chicago. Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa.
Tuesday will be cloudy. Scattered light snow is expected and most of us could get a trace to 1 inch but the totals will be a little higher near Lake Huron, maybe 2 inches there. Highs 25 to 32 degrees. Wind from the north gusting to 20 mph.
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.
Tonight any of us could see a passing snow shower. Wind in the Lower will continue to gust to 25 mph. Lows will fall into the 20s around northern Michigan.