Death toll in Midwest storm hits 19
MILWAUKEE - Highways remained slippery for some holiday travelers Monday in the upper Midwest in the aftermath of a blustery snowstorm that blacked out thousands of homes and businesses and snarled air travel.
At least 19 deaths were linked to the weekend-long blast of ice and windblown snow, which led to multi-car pileups that closed sections of several major highways on the Plains.
Conditions had eased Monday, with sunshine across much of the region, but that didn't necessarily mean safer roads, authorities cautioned.
Highways in northwestern Wisconsin still had slippery patches Monday, said State Patrol dispatcher Linda Luhman in Spooner.
"We haven't had anything major, accident-wise. Slide-ins and minor property damage, but no serious injuries or fatalities," Luhman said.
Early Monday, Sgt. Tim Elve of the Dane County Sheriff's Office said: "The roads aren't quite as ice-covered but we're still telling people not to drive unless they have to. The interstate is still slick and the rural roads are really bad."
Authorities had issued urgent pleas for travelers to stay home Sunday but officials worried that people would insist on driving Monday, regardless of the weather, to get to Christmas Eve destinations.
"I know it's the holidays but we hope people use some common sense when traveling," said Sgt. Chad Breuer of the Grant County Sheriff's Department in southwest Wisconsin.
The storm rolled through Colorado and Wyoming on Friday, then spread snow and ice on Saturday from the Texas Panhandle to Wisconsin. On Sunday, snow fell across much of Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota and parts of Michigan and Indiana.
Up to 15 inches of snow fell over the weekend on parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which typically gets heavy snow, and freezing drizzle glazed some highways Monday morning in counties along Lake Michigan.
The storm system had blown out to sea Monday morning, but in its wake
wind blowing at 25 mph picked up moisture from Lake Erie to create
lake-effect snow in Buffalo, N.Y. Five to 10 inches of snow was
possible there and in other parts of western New York by Tuesday
morning, the weather service said.
Wind was measured at 88 mph
over Lake Michigan, with gusts of 50 to 68 mph across the Chicago
region, according to the National Weather Service.
the wind, airlines canceled more than 300 flights Sunday at Chicago's
O'Hare International Airport, the city Aviation Department said.
Municipal officials said the wind had knocked out nearly 170 traffic
signals, and there were more than 500 reports of fallen trees and
Travelers packed hotels in Albert Lea, Minn., Sunday
night after blowing snow and poor visibility forced them off Interstate
35. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty authorized the National Guard to open
the city's armory for stranded travelers.
More than 11,000
homes and businesses were without power at some point Saturday in
Wisconsin because of the freezing rain, ice, gusty wind and heavy snow,
utilities said. Michigan utilities reported some 31,000 customers were
still without power Monday morning, and in Illinois about 3,900 ComEd
customers remained without power Monday, down from a Sunday morning
peak of more than 225,000.
Accidents on highways slippery with
snow and ice killed at least seven people in Minnesota, three in
Indiana, three in Wyoming, four in Wisconsin and one each in Texas and