A fast-moving winter storm with blizzard-like conditions rolled into the Great Plains and the Midwest on Sunday, closing highways and grounding more than 1,600 flights on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
As of 7 p.m. Eastern time Sunday, 1,637 flights had been canceled nationwide, according to website FlightAware.
Southwest Airlines and American Airlines canceled all their flights from Kansas City International Airport in Missouri on Sunday afternoon because of the weather, according to KCTV. Some passengers were being told that they would not be able to be rebooked on flights before Tuesday.
There were few alternatives for stranded travelers. Interstate 29 in Missouri was closed near the Iowa border, the AP reports. And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported tornado warnings in St. Louis and St. Charles counties.
In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) declared a state of emergency and urged travelers to delay any trips until after the storm passed. Part of Interstate 70 ― between Salina and Wakeeny ― was closed Sunday morning, The Associated Press reported.
Benjamin Gardiner, the public information officer for the Kansas Highway Patrol, posted several videos on Twitter urging people to stay off the roads.
The National Weather Service also suggested that people who had hosted Thanksgiving celebrations in Kansas should invite their guests to stay a little longer.
Part of Interstate 80 in Nebraska was shut down after several tractor-trailers jackknifed, local outlet KLKN reported. The highway has since reopened.
The winter storm was moving at a fast pace, so Chicago was bracing for 8 inches to 12 inches of snow and high winds even as conditions were beginning to improve in the Plains on Sunday evening, WBBM reported. A blizzard warning is expected to remain in effect in the city until 9 a.m. Monday.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel visited the city’s emergency management center, highlighting the need to take the weather conditions seriously.