* Storm blamed for fatal accidents in Illinois, Wisconsin
* More than 1,100 flights canceled in and out of Chicago
* Snow and ice make driving difficult in several states
(Adds details on rush-hour conditions in Chicago, deadly
accident near the Indiana border)
By James B. Kelleher
CHICAGO, March 5 A deadly late winter storm
dumped heavy snow on the Midwestern United States on Tuesday,
contributing to numerous automobile accidents on highways and
flight cancellations as it moved east toward the Ohio Valley and
the mid-Atlantic states.
In Chicago, where the National Weather Service issued a
winter storm warning effective through midnight, residents
girded for between 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) of snow - much of
it expected to fall during the evening commute.
As rush hour began, wind-whipped snow was falling at a heavy
rate throughout the Chicago area, according to the Illinois
State Patrol, reducing visibility to less than half a mile and
causing heavy delays on roads in the region.
Monique Bond, a spokeswoman with the Illinois State Patrol,
said bad weather may have been a contributing factor in a deadly
crash on Interstate Highway 70 in Marshall, Illinois near the
A female driver headed east on I-70 crossed the median and
crashed into a westbound tanker trunk. The driver of the car and
her young child died in the accident.
Most of the other weather-related incidents the state patrol
responded to on Tuesday were spinouts involving single vehicles,
More than 1,100 flights were canceled in and out of
Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports, according to the Chicago
Department of Aviation. Another 107 more were canceled at
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, according to the
FlightAware.com flight tracking service.
At a late morning press conference hosted by Chicago Mayor
Rahm Emanuel, the city's Office of Emergency Management &
Communications said nearly 300 snow plows were working to keep
the city's 4,100 miles of roads clear.
Southwest Airlines canceled all of its flights in and out of
Chicago's Midway Airport through 6 p.m. as a precaution, the
Chicago Department of Aviation said.
Hundreds of schools were closed in northern Illinois,
according to local media. But for the more than 400,000 students
enrolled in Chicago's public school system, the nation's
third-largest school district, normal class schedules were in
effect, according to the district.
Roads in northwest Illinois had patches of ice and snow on
Tuesday and road crews were bracing in northeast Illinois for
the storm, which began dropping snow on Chicago near the middle
of the morning rush hour.
Monique Bond, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police,
said that as of noon Central time, there were no serious crashes
anywhere in the state and no traffic accident fatalities blamed
on the storm.
In western Wisconsin, a semi-tractor flipped off an
Interstate 94 bridge and fully submerged in the Red Cedar River
in Menomonie early Tuesday, said Christine Ouellete, a Wisconsin
Transportation Department spokeswoman.
Wisconsin rescue crews recovered the body of a man thought
to be the driver of the truck and were searching for the body of
his co-driver, who was presumed dead, State Patrol Lieutenant
Jeff Lorentz said.
Wisconsin's transportation department listed numerous roads
as snow-covered or slippery from the storm across southwestern
Wisconsin, but no road closings.
Slick roads contributed to numerous crashes and a slow
commute across the border in Minnesota. Driving conditions
remained difficult along highways in parts of North Dakota.
Minnesota's public safety department reported 122 crashes,
but no fatalities from the storm so far. Several spots around
the Twin Cities area reported nine inches of snow and driving
conditions on highways throughout the Twin Cities were still
listed as "difficult" hours after the storm passed through.
The storm was expected to move eastward over the Ohio Valley
and then the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic states on
Wednesday, hitting Washington with its biggest snowfall in
possibly two years, the National Weather Service said.
Winter storm warnings were in effect for all or parts of 16
states from the Upper Midwest to the mid-Atlantic on Tuesday,
National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro said.
The storm was forecast to move across Ohio and the Tennessee
Valley and merge with a developing storm off the mid-Atlantic
states that could produce heavy, wet snow overnight and through
Wednesday into the mid-Atlantic states that could bring down
trees and power lines, Vaccaro said.
"It will be a wet, heavy, gloppy snow consistent with
wallpaper paste," he said.
(Additional reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis, Jane
Sutton in Miami and Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Doina
Chiacu, Andrew Hay and Bernard Orr)