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Storm snarls air travel in Chicago, threatens US northeast

A winter storm shutting down air traffic in Chicago will move east, bringing heavy snow to Boston and ensuring that New York has a slushy commute to start the work week.

[BOSTON] A winter storm shutting down air traffic in Chicago will move east, bringing heavy snow to Boston and ensuring that New York has a slushy commute to start the work week.

Winds gusting to 51.5 kmh were blowing heavy snow across the Chicago area, where as much as 30.5cm to 40.6cm may fall, the National Weather Service said. The storm will move east through the night, bringing deep snow to Detroit, Cleveland and Boston and slush to New York.

Heavy snow will change to rain in New York by daybreak, and the city may end up with 5cm to 12.7cm, said Joe Pollina, a Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York. Later Monday cold air will come in bringing freezing rain.

"The morning commute will be impacted by the snow. and the evening commute will be impacted by the ice," Mr Pollina said.

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Winter storm warnings, meaning snow will make travel dangerous, stretch from eastern Nebraska to southern Maine. As of 4.20 pm in New York, 2,300 US flights had been canceled on Sunday, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline- tracking company.

The majority of those trips were in and out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport, the company said. At least 1,384 flights had been scrubbed for Monday.

"I think you have plan for delays all day at the airports, and things are not going to get any better until Tuesday," said Bernie Rayno, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

Affected Cities Just to the north of New York, places from the Midwest to the Atlantic might get 15.2cm to 30cm of snow, said Bruce Terry, a meteorologist with the US Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Boston will be affected "significantly," Terry said. Commuter-rail authorities in Chicago and Boston warned residents that delays are probable as the storm sweeps through.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that a storm watch will be in effect from 7pm Sunday until 6pm Monday. Wind-chill temperatures might drop as low as minus-20 degrees Monday night.

The mayor said city schools will be open on Monday and subways will continue to operate. The city suspended alternate-side parking for Monday to ease snow removal.


Unlike his New York counterpart, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh closed schools and declared a snow emergency will begin at 6am Monday.

"Boston - they are in it and I think they are going to get up to a foot," Mr Rayno said.

Chicago will suffer through heavy, blowing snow through the rest of Sunday, he said.

"It is going to be real nasty this evening is Chicago," Mr Rayno said. "It already is not good. It is only going to get worse through this evening." In central Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow to snow, sleet and freezing rain, Mr Rayno said. Feb 2 is the day the groundhog supposedly comes out of hibernation. If it sees its shadow on emerging, that by tradition means there will be six more weeks of winter.

"It is going to be nasty for the little rodent," Mr Rayno said. "He shouldn't see his shadow."

The storm will arrive on the East Coast a week after a blizzard buried much of southern New England and Boston under at least two feet of snow and dropped 25cm in Central Park, sparing New York its worst effects.

Boston has a 75 per cent chance of getting 20.3cm or more by Tuesday, the Weather Service said. The forecast for the city is for 25.4cm to 35.5cm by the time the storm leaves.

An extra foot of snow will make cleanup from the last storm even more difficult, Mr Terry said.

Mr Rayno said that after the current storm clears out, there is a chance another system will develop later in the week.