Hundreds of flights cancelled as snowstorm slams US Midwest

A United Airlines jet blows snow on a runway at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Feb. 1 2015. Nam Y. Huh AP

Chicago officials say about 6 to 7 inches of snow has fallen on the city and they're gearing up for three more waves through the weekend.

Over the remainder of the Chicago counties along and north of Interstate-80 snowfall as of 6AM CST looks to be in the 4 to 6-inch range with totals between 6 and 9-inches likely before snow ends from the west and north later this morning.

Light snow is expected to spread north across the Niagara Frontier by midday, becoming moderate at times this afternoon into tonight.

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The snowfall caused dozens of crashes on icy Chicago expressways as residents of the third-biggest USA city struggled to get to work and to dig out from a storm system stretching from western Montana to southern MI. More than 200 flights were also canceled Friday morning at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The Chicago Department of Aviation reports Friday morning that about 550 flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and about 230 flights were canceled at Chicago's Midway Airport. Detroit Public Schools are closed, as well as Eastern Michigan University, Oakland University, Wayne State University, University of Michigan Dearborn, Washtenaw Community College and Lawrence Tech.

That would be a significant improvement over the forecast from Thursday night, when it appeared the Chicago area could see as much as 12 inches by Friday afternoon, and up to 17 inches by Sunday. Forecasters say travel will be "very hard to impossible" at times.

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The storm that started Thursday evening in Iowa and Nebraska also created treacherous driving conditions and forced the cancellation of more than 1,300 flights in Chicago and Detroit.

The National Weather Service issued winter-weather warnings and advisories across the upper Midwest.

Officials are saying it won't be windy, and the snow will be heavy, but the wind directions can change continuously so expect some drifting to be an issue. Travelers are advised to check their flight's status before heading to the airport.

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