Great Lakes area braces for heavy snow, strong winds

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CHICAGO >> A powerful storm moving through parts of the Midwest on Wednesday could dump more than a foot of snow in places, leading to the pre-emptive cancellation of hundreds of flights in and out of Chicago and the cancellation of classes by some school districts.

Before the first snowflakes fell in Chicago, airlines had cancelled more than 900 flights in or out of its major airports, O'Hare and Midway. The city had about half of its 300 snowplows on stand-by to aid the evening rush hour. But the heaviest snow was expected to hit northern Indiana, where powerful winds blowing off of Lake Michigan could keep snow piling up past midnight and bury the area in up to 18 inches.

The winter weather warnings from the National Weather Service also stretched southwest through all of Illinois and into Missouri, where several inches had fallen by early morning, leading to school closures and downing power lines. Blizzard warnings were posted for counties in eastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana.

Some schools also closed in Michigan in anticipation of a wet, heavy snow expected to be well underway by afternoon. Flint, Michigan, is expected to get 8 to 12 inches of snow. The city is facing a crisis with lead-tainted water, and officials urged residents to make sure they have enough filters, cartridges and bottled water on hand.

Motorists were also warned of zero visibility at times on the state's roadways.


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