CHICAGO — The Midwest’s first major storm of the season blew in Monday with cold and heavy snow, snarling air travel around the country and giving thousands of children a day off from school.
"I used to like snow and ice skating and stuff like that, but this is crazy," John Alaniz said on a Chicago corner, a black fur hat with ear flaps almost concealing his face as snow blew through the streets.
Blizzard warnings were posted across northern Illinois and Indiana, with up to a foot of snow forecast Monday in the Chicago area and southeastern Wisconsin, and 20 inches possible by Tthis morning in northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan, the National Weather Service said.
Temperatures fell below the freezing mark as far south as Texas — where snowflakes were possible in El Paso — and wind chills plummeted to 51 below zero in North Dakota.
Blowing snow and cold closed schools in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Farther south, icy roads kept youngsters home in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, which had hundreds of traffic accidents.
Spotty power outages were reported across Iowa and in a rural part of Illinois.
Thousands of travelers were stranded when Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports — two of the busiest hubs in America — canceled about 75 percent of departing flights, affecting connections to many other parts of the nation. Flights also were canceled at airports in such cities as Milwaukee and Detroit.
Monday’s storm didn’t faze many Wisconsin residents used to bitter and blustery weather.
Roosevelt Gibson Jr., 74, stood with his cane at a downtown Milwaukee intersection and squinted into the wind as he waited for his bus.
"I’ve seen worse than this," he said. "It’s part of living here. Gotta take it as it comes."
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