Storms batter northern half of nation as winter makes debut
DES MOINES - Weekend storms in the nation's northern half knocked out power to thousands of customers yesterday and created nightmarish conditions for holiday travelers coast to coast on the first official day of winter.
Wind chills dipped to minus 30 or lower in the Midwest, and high winds produced whiteout conditions that contributed to at least two vehicle pileups, in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Parts of Iowa and Illinois were under blizzard warnings. Power was knocked out to more than 35,000 customers yesterday in Illinois shortly after being restored to most who had lost it after a storm last week, utilities said.
"There was so much icing down there on the trees and power lines - then the wind is coming through and knocking things down," said ComEd spokeswoman Kim Johnson.
More than 70,000 homes and businesses in Indiana remained in the dark after an ice storm that struck Thursday. Wind gusts topping 30 miles per hour hindered repair work, officials said.
Wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour blew snow and contributed to a crash involving at least 30 vehicles yesterday in southwestern Michigan on Interstate 94, a major route between Chicago and Detroit, officials said.
At least one person was seriously injured in the crash, which shut down 6 miles of eastbound lanes north of Stevensville, State Police said.
More than 20 vehicles were involved in a pileup yesterday on Interstate 43 in Wisconsin's Ozaukee County that briefly shut down southbound lanes. Eleven people were injured, but nearly all had been treated and released, officials said.
Even hardy Minnesotans buckled to the cold, calling off a Minneapolis holiday parade yesterday that is automatically canceled if the wind chill dips below minus 20.
Sleet and freezing rain in New York and New Jersey delayed flights at Newark Airport by an average of two hours.
While officials in the Pacific Northwest were relieved yesterday that a snowstorm there failed to meet expectations, hundreds of travelers nonetheless lingered at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, waiting for their next flight.
At Seattle's Greyhound bus terminal, dozens were stranded overnight, passengers said. No Greyhound buses were running there yesterday.