Midwesterners headed to supermarkets and hardware stores Friday to snap up last-minute supplies as the region prepared for a storm that was expected to drop more than a foot of snow.
"We don't advise travel at all," said Robin Smith, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Joliet, Ill.
The developing system moving through the southern Plains had forecasters predicting that parts of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa could get up to 14 inches of snow by Saturday night. Gusty winds could create near-blizzard conditions.
Several inches of snow already had fallen in parts of the Plains. In Missouri, the new year brought a combination of snow, sleet and ice that made things a mess for holiday travelers.
In Evansville, Ind., customers flocked to Buehler's Buy-Low to stock up on food.
Assistant manager Jeff Quirk said the New Year's Day holiday normally is one of the store's slowest days of the year. But the throngs prompted him to bring in extra help.
United Airlines officials said passengers planning to fly from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport this weekend should wait until Monday or Tuesday. Snow removal equipment was in place at O'Hare and Midway airports, and hundreds of cots were on standby for travelers who may be stranded.
At least two people were killed in a weather-related accident Friday on Interstate 80 in Nebraska as freezing drizzle and up to 3 inches of snow made roads extremely slick.
And in Arkansas, about 47,000 customers were without power early Friday following an ice storm.