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Old Man Winter wakens with a vengeance in Midwest

January 13, 2012 |  8:32 am

 

Winter, which seemingly has been hibernating in much of the country, woke up with a vengeance on Friday with major storms hitting the Midwest and Northeast--and even Alaska continues to deal with overly enthusiastic cold fronts.

Up to now, much of the nation has been spared the usual misery associated with winter, which technically began last month. Relative warmth has spared the nation’s snow belt, which has avoided clogged traffic, lost productivity and the blahs associated with cold precipitation.

But all that changed this week. Parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri were hit by snow and the storm moved through Chicago dumping as much as six to eight inches, according to the National Weather Service.

“A storm system will move from the Great Lakes through the northeastern U.S. today, bringing significant lake effect snows,” the service noted on its website. “The heaviest accumulations (exceeding 8”) will be from northeast Ohio through western New York state, or immediately east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Meanwhile, windy conditions are expected across the Mid-Atlantic, lower Great Lakes, and Northeast.”

As much as 15 inches of snow was expected across parts of northern Indiana by midday and the storm will continue its route through Ohio and New England, according to the weather service.

Lake-effect snow is caused by cold air moving over warmer waters of the Great Lakes region. The movement picks up water vapor and energy that powers the snow into the upstate New York snow belt from Buffalo going east across the state.

The storm on Thursday forced the usual school closings in the southern Adirondack Mountains. Albany has received just 6.5 inches of snow so far this winter, about 10 inches less than the usual pace, according to the weather service.

Air traffic was moving normally Friday morning, though some delays were reported in the New York metropolitan area. More than 400 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Thursday, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. And, more than 100 flights were canceled at the Windy City’s other airport, Midway.

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--Michael Muskal

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