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Snowstorm cancels thousands of flights in Chicago, triggers dangerous travel across Midwest

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
January 28, 2019, 1:44:10 PM EST

Before enduring the harshest cold in years, Chicago and Detroit are among the cities where a snowstorm will bring slow and difficult travel and disruptions to daily routines through Monday.

Snow that swept through the northern Plains on Sunday will continue eastward into the Great Lakes through Monday.

Enough snow can fall in the Great Lakes region for plans and activities to be altered or canceled. Schools may be forced to use another snow day on Monday, and people may have difficulties getting to work.

Snow Monday Static

"The storm is expected to drop a swath of 3-6 inches of snow in much of Lower Michigan on Monday, including in Detroit," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

Even though the heaviest snow will fall north of Chicago and Detroit, there can still be enough snow to cause slick travel. A travel nightmare can be anticipated in Chicago with the snow anticipated during the Monday morning commute.

Residents of Chicago and Detroit should not let their guard down despite missing out on the highest snow totals and temperatures climbing above freezing for a time on Monday. Slushy areas can become icy and freeze solid as the Arctic air blasts in behind the storm.

Stretches of interstates 75, 80, 90, 94 and 96 could be severely affected by the storm.

"The snow north of the storm's track will be powdery, which will help ease the hardships of shoveling amid the frigid conditions," Pydynowski said.

Addtional Snow Mon Static

However, gusty winds whipping in with the storm can blow around the light and fluffy snow, creating blowing and drifting concerns as well as whiteouts on the roadways.

Strong winds will whip through the High Plains even in the absence of snow, with gusts past 50 mph possible from eastern Montana to Nebraska and Kansas through Monday.

Such winds threaten to overturn high-profile vehicles on interstates 70, 80, 90 and 94.

“There can be significant disruptions to air travel, especially with the snow targeting Chicago for the Monday morning commute,” said Pydynowski. “Delays and cancellations at this major hub can impact those flying elsewhere across the U.S.”

More than 1,000 flights have already been canceled for Monday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Midway Airport, according to FlightAware.

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Air travel can also be severely affected in Detroit.

Download the free AccuWeather app to see just how much snow will accumulate in your area.

Snow will not just be confined to the Midwest. As the week continues, the threat for snow focuses on the South and the Northeast.

The impending cold is expected to be the harshest in years across the Midwest with temperature records set to fall, and AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures are anticipated to plunge to under 40 below zero F in many communities.

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