CHICAGO — Hundreds of holiday travelers spent Tuesday night in the nation's second-busiest airport, and some of them faced the prospect of doing it again Wednesday night — Christmas Eve — as airports across the country recovered from a barrage of snow and ice storms.
Conditions improved Wednesday, but highways were still dangerously slippery in some areas.
More snow fell in the Midwest, where the National Weather Service said that up to 4 inches was possible in Chicago. The Northwest faced more snow and sleet, with up to 20 inches possible in the Cascade range in Washington, and icy, wet weather spread over the Northeast.
At least 18 highway deaths had been blamed on the weather.
About 500 travelers had to spend the night at Chicago's O'Hare International, the nation's second-busiest airport, after stormy weather canceled more than 500 flights Tuesday, said Chicago Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride. Some slept on cots, while others slept on the floor or across waiting-room seats, and at least some faced the prospect of spending Christmas Eve at O'Hare. More than 100 flights were canceled at O'Hare on Wednesday.
The New York metro area's Kennedy and Newark airports reported arrival delays of up to 3 hours, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.
South of Portland, Ore., crews shut down a section of Interstate 205 at Oregon City because of a buildup of ice and snowbanks, said Dave Thompson, public affairs manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation. The department also was requiring tire chains on all highways in the Portland metro area.
The weather service posted winter storm warnings and advisories for large parts of the West, plus parts of the Midwest and the Northeast.
Across Massachusetts, icy roads caused numerous accidents Wednesday morning, and Interstate 495 in Middleborough and Wareham was closed because of wrecks.
Police in southeastern Pennsylvania reported a spate of ice-caused accidents and traffic delays, including one 22-vehicle crash. No serious injuries were reported.
Motorists in Michigan had to cope with drifting snow in places, and icy pavement.
Despite more snow falling in the Seattle area, operations at Sea-Tac Airport were back to normal Wednesday, said spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt.
Amtrak also reported improvement Wednesday. Trains out of Chicago and elsewhere were leaving on time — or relatively close to it — unlike on Tuesday, when several trains were canceled and some 600 furious travelers waited as long as 22 hours for delayed trains at Chicago's Union Station, spokesman Marc Magliari said.
At least 30 people died in car crashes on rain- and ice-slicked roads Tuesday and Wednesday, including four each in Indiana and Kentucky, two in Missouri, two in Kansas, two in Wisconsin, one in Oklahoma, one in Ohio and one in Iowa. Also, a state lawmaker was killed in West Virginia.