New York Times article:
ST. LOUIS — A sprawling winter storm stretching from the Southwest through the Midwest halted thousands of flights and created treacherous driving conditions on Tuesday, with blizzards dumping snow on ice-covered roads and knocking out power lines.
Missouri residents were hunkered down for what forecasters said could be the worst winter storm to hit the region in 30 years. A freezing rain fell here Monday night, covering the city in a sheath of ice before blizzard conditions arrived.
“We’ve seen tremendous amounts of snow since daybreak, already 6 to 7 inches in some portions of the state,” said Fred Glass, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Charles, Mo. “Were calling for 18 to 21 inches in Jefferson City. That would put this in the top two or there storms since we’ve been keeping records.”
Mr. Glass, who predicted winds of up to 40 miles an hour, added: “The last component of this storm is that the winds are really going to start cranking up and get pretty gusty tonight and tomorrow. That ice on the lines and on tree limbs is pretty heavy, and with those kind of winds we could see a lot of lines come down. So it’s likely we’ll see some power outages.”
By late morning, Ameren, a utility that services Illinois and Missouri, reported nearly 17,000 power failures in Illinois but only 135 in Missouri. Concerned about the storm’s severity, the utility’s Web site says it was in “storm mode” and had brought in more than 800 external linemen from as far away as Wisconsin and Tennessee.
Meanwhile, the ice storm prompted St. Louis Public Schools to cancel classes on Tuesday, and officials at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport said they had canceled more than 400 flights by early Tuesday morning.
Airports from Dallas to New York were scrambling. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was closed Tuesday morning. In Chicago, some snow had fallen overnight, but the worst of the storm was expected to hit on Tuesday afternoon. But more than 1,000 flights were already canceled at O’Hare in advance of the storm.
Road conditions were treacherous in the St. Louis area. Tim Hull, a captain with the Missouri Highway Patrol, said that black ice had already caused the death of a 55-year-old woman who was killed early Tuesday morning in a head-on collision after she lost control of her vehicle near Rolla, Mo., about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis.
Hundreds of schools in the Chicago area announced they would close early. Chicago election officials said early voting in the city’s race to replace Mayor Richard M. Daley would be suspended on Wednesday except for at one downtown location. In Springfield, both chambers of the state Legislature canceled sessions.
The National Weather Service early Tuesday predicted that Chicago would receive as much as 18 inches of snow. The combination of strong winds and heavy snow could cause prolonged power failures, the weather service said.