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Storm socks roads, flights

CHICAGO — A powerful, gusty storm dumped mounds of snow across the upper Midwest on Sunday, closing major highways in several states, canceling more than 1,600 flights in Chicago and collapsing the roof of the Minnesota Vikings' stadium.

At least four weather-related deaths were reported as the storm system dropped nearly 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and marched east. A blizzard warning was in effect Sunday for parts of eastern Iowa, southeastern Wisconsin, northwestern Illinois and northern Michigan, according to the National Weather Service. Surrounding areas, including Chicago, were under winter storm warnings. Much of Iowa was under a wind-chill advisory.

In Minneapolis, the heavy snow left the Metrodome decidedly unready for some football. The wintry weather, with blowing snow that severely limited visibility, wreaked havoc on air and road travel. In the Chicago area, wind gusts of up to 50 mph, temperatures in the teens and wind chills well below zero were expected, along with up to 8 inches of snow.

At least 1,375 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and more than 300 were canceled at Midway International Airport, Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride said.

Both airports expected more cancellations and reported significant delays.

Officials at O'Hare set up about 200 cots and will provide amenity kits containing toothpaste and toothbrushes in case travelers get stranded at the airport, Pride said.

Major highways in several states were closed due to poor driving conditions and accidents.

In Indianapolis, police said a man fatally stabbed his wife, then died four blocks from his home Sunday morning when his vehicle hit a tree after he lost control on a slippery road. Police did not immediately release the names of the couple.

Illinois State Police closed a section of Interstate 80 in the north central part of the state after a multiple-car pileup west of Peru and part of Interstate 55 near Springfield after accidents and reports of zero visibility.

In Iowa, Interstate 29 from the state line to Sioux Falls, S.D., remained closed.

Seven vehicles crashed on Interstate 94 about 50 miles west of Milwaukee, prompting authorities to close the westbound lanes. A vehicle lost control on an ice-covered road and slammed into a tree in southeastern Wisconsin, killing Alejandria Abaunza, 21, of Chicago.

Tod Pritchard of Wisconsin Emergency Management warned that at a certain point, road salt would no longer be effective. The storm had already dropped up to 18 inches of snow in parts of northern and central Wisconsin, he said.

Authorities said Sunday that weather played a role in the death of Douglas Munneke, 55, of St. Cloud, Minn. He died of a heart attack after collapsing while he was snow-blowing his driveway Saturday.

In western Wisconsin, a 79-year-old man snow-blowing the end of his driveway was killed when a plow truck backed into him. The St. Croix County Sheriff's Department said Clifford Larson of Woodville died at the scene.

Snow also blanketed Tennessee, where up to 8 inches was expected by this evening.

Bay area to see coldest days

The coldest mornings of the season so far will greet the Tampa Bay area this week. High temperatures are expected to reach only the upper 40s today but will feel even colder because of high winds, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure. Overnight into Tuesday morning, winds will die down and lows could dip into the 20s — meaning a hard freeze is likely inland, and a freeze is possible in Pinellas County, McClure said. High temperatures Tuesday will reach the

upper 40s to lower 50s. Lows are expected to be back in the 20s Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. "Those two nights are going to be horrible for our plants," McClure said. Temperatures are expected to climb back to average by Friday.

Times staff

Storm socks roads, flights 12/12/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:40pm]

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