Bundle up! Jack Frost has paid another visit to the Midwest. For the second time this week, a major winter storm has left people from Oklahoma to the Great Lakes scrambling to stay safe and warm. Heavy, wet snow has shut down major highways, delayed flights and left hundreds of thousands of Midwesterners without power. “It’s just snow. That’s all we can see,” said Shannon Wickware of Woodward, Ohio.
Storm on the Move
The storm began in Texas on Sunday and rapidly traveled north. A gust of 75 mile per hour winds pushed the storm up towards Oklahoma, bringing fifteen inches of snow to parts of Oklahoma. It then moved east and hovered over Chicago, Illinois, dropping four inches of wet snow on top of the city and its suburbs. Airlines canceled nearly 500 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports. Taking into account the safety of their students in the treacherous storm, many schools in the affected states either delayed opening or did not open at all.
In Kansas City, Missouri, up to ten inches of snow had fallen before midday on Tuesday. The city’s mayor, Sly James, declared a state of emergency. Most government and office buildings were shut down. Some hospitals were forced to close urgent-care clinics. The Missouri Department of Transportation has issued a “no travel” advisory, telling people to stay off all roads and major highways.
While heavy snowfall is not usual for this part of the country at this time of year, it is the amount of moisture in the snow that makes conditions extra treacherous. When snow is especially damp, it weighs down trees and brings down power lines. Roofs can cave in under the pressure and roads can become very icy. The strained power lines have cut off electricity to more than 100,000 homes and businesses in the Midwest.
As snow falls and the temperature continues to drop, people are preparing the best they can to stay dry and safe. The wintry mix of sleet, rain and snow is making travel difficult for even snowplows and repair vehicles. “It’s snowing, blowing, drifting, everything,” said Robert Branscecum, a trucker from Illinois. “I’m not leaving anytime soon.”