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Archive for Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snowstorm grounds flights, ices roads throughout Midwest

January 11, 2009

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— A powerful winter storm blasted large swaths of the Midwest and Northeast with snow and freezing rain on Saturday, grounding flights and stranding vehicles along icy roads.

Nearly a foot of snow fell in some Midwest states, and more than half of the morning flights at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were canceled or delayed. Ten inches at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport forced the cancellation of about 100 flights, Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department reported.

“This is the biggest one of the season,” said Brian Mitchell, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Cleveland. “We didn’t have this kind of snow in the last couple of months.”

Motorists in Youngstown and Warren, in northeast Ohio, slowed to a crawl to avoid spinouts or wrecks. Road crews were put on 12-hour shifts, and were doing all they could to keep pace with the new snow, said Theresa Pollick, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“Now it becomes a plow and salt game,” Pollick said. “It’s basically keeping up with the precipitation.”

Freezing rain in Indiana caused five salt trucks to slide into ditches Saturday as they worked to de-ice roads. Tow trucks stopped responding to accidents because they were sliding off icy roads when they tried to pull vehicles from ditches, the Star Press of Muncie reported.

“It’s bad. You can’t even stand up on the roads,” said Duke Campbell, the highway manager for Indiana’s Delaware County.

In Ohio’s Sandusky Bay, a freighter heading to coal docks became trapped and had to wait for a Coast Guard cutter to clear a path through the ice.

In the Chicago suburb of Darien, a woman was killed when her vehicle spun out of control in the heavy snow, struck a dividing wall and then was hit by another vehicle. A motorist was also killed in a fiery crash on a snow- and ice-covered stretch of U.S. 20 in northern Indiana, police said.

In Michigan, at least 8 inches of snow fell on the southern Lower Peninsula by Saturday afternoon. AAA said it had responded to about 2,500 calls for road service by 4 p.m., spokeswoman Nancy Cain said.

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