Wind-whipped snow sweeps Chicago area

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Wind-whipped snow blanketed Chicago, leaving thousands without power and cancelling nearly 1,000 flights. As of Friday night, the western and southwestern suburbs of Chicago, the third most populous city in the US, had received 4 to 7 inches of snow, reports Xinhua news agency.

Northern areas closer to Chicago had received 2 to 3.5 inches. With as much as 2 inches of snow falling per hour on Friday and winds up to 35 miles per hour (mph), up to 4 to 7 inches of snow could pile up on the ground, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing the National Weather Service (NWS). It is expected to be the most severe storm so far this season.

Snow will lash the Chicago until Saturday morning, the NWS predicted. Gusts could reach up to 45 mph, with almost zero visibility. There were 2,268 power outages reported across the city, affecting more than 96,000 customers, according to ComEd’s outage map.

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The Federal Aviation Administration issued ground stops for Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Friday because of the weather. More than 700 flights at the airport have been cancelled. At Midway International Airport, 257 flights were cancelled. In downtown Chicago, five bus routes that typically travel on the Lake Shore Drive were rerouted off the lakefront road because of the weather.

Amtrak has also canceled multiple trains in and out of Chicago Union Station. The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services has activated warming areas in the city’s six community service centres, encouraging residents to stay indoors as temperatures will plummet later this weekend and conditions may worsen and visibility will decrease with the rising snowfall.

The Chicago City Government deployed 287 salt spreaders to clear snow and ice. According to the NWS, a winter storm is sweeping through US Midwest and Great Lakes into the weekend. Nearly 30 million people, mostly in the Midwest and around the Great Lakes, are under a winter storm warning. Over 3.5 million people in the region were under a blizzard warning.