CHICAGO (AP) — The good news for many in the Northeast and Midwest is that it’s a white Christmas. The bad news is a blizzard swept into parts of New England and bitter cold enveloped much of the Midwest.
Motorists in New England were in for tough sledding as a Christmas storm was expected to bring nearly a foot of snow in places. A blizzard warning was issued Monday for portions of central and northern Maine, and part of the New Hampshire coast. Forecasters warned that snow of up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) and wind gusts up to 50 mph (80 kph) could make travel “dangerous to impossible.”
A band of states from eastern Montana and the Dakotas to Wisconsin were expecting wind chill temperatures in places at 30 to 40 below zero (34 to 40 below Celsius) according to the National Weather Service.
The upper half of Iowa and northern Illinois also braced for subzero temperatures. Temperatures in Chicago were expected to fall to a degree or two below zero overnight.
Snow amounts in the Midwest were not large for this time of year. A storm system that swept from Nebraska through Iowa dropped around 2 inches of snow on Chicago, the weather service said.
That was just enough to provide a picturesque backdrop for those gathering for Christmas dinners. But it wasn’t enough to cause havoc either on roadway or airport runaways.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was reporting just six cancellations and average delays of only 15 minutes around noon Monday. There were no cancellations at the city’s other major airport, Midway, and delays were less than 15 minutes on average.
The nation’s third largest city had comparatively little snow for the season until the weekend — just over 2 inches (5 centimeters) in all, said Ricky Castro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. So, snow-lovers were pleased.
“It’s a more wintry feel for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with a cold week ahead,” Castro said.
In addition to slowing travel in New England, the storm was responsible for some power outages. Eversource reported more than 20,000 customers in eastern Massachusetts without electricity, the bulk on Cape Cod which was feeling the brunt of strong winds.
Most of Indiana had been under winter weather advisory with officials urging motorists to stay put unless they absolutely had to travel. Northern Indiana had been expecting up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) with slightly less in the southern part of the state.
New England was expected to get up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow. Strong winds were predicted for Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island with gusts up to 65 mph (105 kph).
Mountain areas in parts of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming received more than 1 foot (30 centimeters) of snow, which started Saturday. It was good news for holiday skiers and resorts which have struggled with a slow start this season.
But it meant a heightened warning of avalanches in higher elevations outside of ski areas.