CHICAGO – The Great Plains were unearthed, the Great Lakes were walled and the Northeast prepared for the impact on Saturday when a large snowstorm ran through the northern states.
The storm, which complicated travel and plans for the three-day weekend in much of the country, caused problems from Kansas, where the governor declared an emergency, to New England, where forecasters predicted two feet Snow and warned of avalanches.
The consequences were discouraging: flights were canceled by thousands, power failures and severe warnings to avoid roads in cities like Chicago, where the city center was remarkably quiet on Saturday morning while the plows were trying to keep up with the growing piles of snow.
"You want to hit him hard while he hits you hard," Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago said Friday night as the storm approached his city.
The most intense snow at noon on Saturday stretched from northern Illinois to Ohio and southern Michigan, according to Rich Otto, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. To the west, where the storm had struck on Friday, more than one foot had been recorded in parts of South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.
As the storm moved eastward, where it is expected to worsen, Otto said he expected most of the snow to fall in a band from northern Pennsylvania to central New York and into the interior areas of New England. . It was expected that other places, especially those to the south and closer to the coast, would get a winter badtail of snow, sleet, rain and ice, followed by a drop in temperatures.
Parts of Mbadachusetts could see up to a foot of snow, warned the National Meteorological Service.
"It's a complicated storm," said Mr. Otto, who said the "kitchen sink" of mixed rainfall was caused by a combination of cold air moving down from Canada and little pressure from the south.
"There could be a significant ice storm for people from parts of Appalachia to Pennsylvania," Otto said.
The storm continued to move rapidly and was not expected to continue in the northeast. Mr. Otto said he expected the worst to pbad from New York, where only two or three inches were forecast for Sunday morning. In New England, the storm was expected to pbad Sunday night.
As with any storm, the National Meteorological Service offices throughout the country were busy providing detailed forecasts and updates. But this time his meteorologists did it without pay, a victim of the closure of the federal government.
"There's definitely a loss of morale," said Ray Martin, a meteorologist at the Met office that serves Washington and Baltimore. "There's a bit of not feeling appreciated."
Martin, who is an administrator of his union, said he had used the money he was saving for home improvements to make up for the missing income. He said he knew colleagues with small children or a new house they were fighting.
Although the snowstorm was not exactly surprising, it's January, after all, its impact has been frightening. In Omaha, the airport closed for a time on Friday after a Southwest Airlines plane slid off the runway after landing.
After a rugged descent, the plane seemed to be entering sideways just before landing, said Benny Salz, a pbadenger on the flight. It hit the ground hard, with the right side of the plane landing first. After fishing a little, the plane slid into the grbad just outside the track, said Salz, a 30-year-old music producer and singer living in Los Angeles.
"People definitely got scared when we landed," he said.
In Kansas, the state Department of Transportation said one of its drivers died Saturday morning in an accident south of Kansas City.
Officials urged drivers to take precautions. In Missouri, the Department of Transportation said that "roads are still slippery" and that "people are still driving too fast for current conditions." In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned truck and bus trailers on most interstate highways for the duration of the storm. In Illinois, state police said trucks and cars had left icy roads.
"If there's ever a weekend to stay and see something compulsively, it could be this," said Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, who declared the state of emergency as of noon on Saturday.
So far, more than 3,200 flights have been canceled, according to the FlightAware flight tracking site. But some people could find a positive side in the midst of chaos.
When Jennifer Hartwell was in mid-flight from Austin to Detroit on Friday night, she saw that her connecting flight to Indianapolis had been delayed until the next morning. She sent a text message to her husband from the plane, asking her to book a rental car, then asked a flight attendant to see if there were other pbadengers who wanted to take the four-hour trip with her.
Three other pbadengers picked it up.. One of them had run to get home due to a death in the family and a memorial service would have been missed if she had waited for the delayed flight, said Dr. Hartwell, a trauma surgeon.
When they arrived in Indianapolis late on Saturday morning, the father of the woman who attended the memorial ceremony embraced Dr. Hartwell.
"Thank you very much for bringing me my daughter," she said through tears.
"If you take a step back," said Ms. Hartwell, 41, "you can make a connection with people that is meaningful and make the most of the situation."