A winter storm packing heavy snow and high winds was disrupting flights and snarling highways across a swath of the Midwest on Monday as America struggled back to work after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Blizzard and near-blizzard conditions were roaring through the region from Chicago to Kansas. Chicago could see a foot of snow before the weather eases later Monday. Other hard-hit areas were seeing anywhere from 6 to 18 inches.
"As a city we are used to snow, but this is our first of the season," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "This (storm) also brings unpredictability with strong winds and dropping temperatures."
Almost 200,000 homes and businesses in Illinois were without power Monday, along with more than 50,000 more in Michigan and Indiana. Parts of Illinois experienced whiteout conditions, 50 mph gusts and up to 2 inches of snow per hour.
The National Weather Service warned of dangerous travel conditions Monday, but said the storm would loosen its grip on the region through the day.
Almost 2,000 flights had been cancelled Sunday and Monday. Chicago's O'Hare International Airport was hardest hit, but Kansas City, Milwaukee; Omaha and Des Moines were among major arteries also scrambling with canceled and delayed flights.
Airline delays in or out of Chicago had a ripple effect nationwide. Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver and Boston were among other airports dealing with collateral scheduling issues. The weather led most major airlines to waive change fees.
The snow dropped almost 10 inches in parts of Idaho and Wyoming on Saturday night into Sunday. Jackson, Wyoming, was hit with 9 inches.
Paul Walker, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather said blizzard and near-blizzard conditions were an issue from Topeka, Kansas, and Omaha, Nebraska, to Des Moines, Iowa, and Madison, Wisconsin. More than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa. Downed tree limbs and power lines will continue to cause power outages.
Major interstates to small backroads could see hazardous driving conditions, Walker warned.
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer declared a statewide disaster emergency. Parts of Interstate 70 were ordered closed in the state.
"The Kansas Department of Transportation has reported multiple road closures due to visibility," Colyer said. "We strongly recommend you postpone travel plans due to the conditions if possible."
In Nebraska, parts of I-80 were closed as snow and crashes snarled the highway.
The fast-moving storm is likely to drop heavy snow on parts of New England by Tuesday, a foot or more in northern New Hampshire and Maine. Temperatures will plummet Monday and Tuesday from the Ohio Valley to the East Coast. Conditions could be as much as 15 to 30 degrees below normal, especially in the middle Mississippi Valley and parts of the Ohio Valley.
Contributing: Ben Mutzabaugh and Kristin Lam, USA TODAY; The Associated Press