Snowstorm delays travel in Midwest

Posted: December 21, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa - The first widespread snowstorm of the season plodded across the Midwest on Thursday, as whiteout conditions sent drivers sliding over slick roads and some travelers were forced to scramble for alternate ways to get to their holiday destinations.

The storm, which dumped a foot of snow in parts of Iowa and Wisconsin, was part of a system that began in the Rockies this week before trekking into the Midwest. It was expected to move across the Great Lakes overnight before moving into Canada.

The storm led airlines to cancel about 1,000 flights ahead of the Christmas holiday - relatively few compared with past big storms, though the number was climbing.

Most of the canceled flights were at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway international airports. At O'Hare, many people were taking the cancellations in stride and the normally busy airport was much quieter than normal Thursday evening.

The storm made travel difficult from Kansas to Wisconsin, forcing road closures, including a 120-mile stretch of Interstate 35 from Ames, Iowa, through Albert Lea, Minn. Iowa and Wisconsin activated National Guard troops to help rescue stranded drivers.

In Iowa, two people were killed and seven injured in a 25-vehicle pileup. Drivers were blinded by blowing snow and didn't see vehicles that had slowed or stopped on Interstate 35 about 60 miles north of Des Moines, state police said.

Along with Thursday's fatal accident in Iowa, the storm was blamed for traffic deaths in Nebraska, Kansas, and Wisconsin. In southeastern Utah, a woman who tried to walk for help after her car became stuck in snow died Tuesday night.

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