Storms Take Toll on Midwest, East Coast Airports

Snow and sleet moved into the East, slowing Monday morning travelers on the ground and in the air and closing some schools.

Highway crews scrambled to clear the roads, and hundreds of flights were canceled - including at least 68 for JetBlue, whose flight schedule and reputation were severely battered by a storm two weeks ago.

With memories still fresh of the ice that had stopped flights across the region and stranded dozens of drivers on one Pennsylvania highway, the roads were salted and plowed early Monday and were being inspected every two hours, PennDOT spokesman Ron Young said.

Officials across much of the region were relieved Monday to see snow instead ice.

"The salt's going to work just fine," said David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration. "It's not supposed to get really cold - not like that last storm we had, where everything turned to a big hunk of ice."

Snow started falling in some parts of the East on Sunday and continued overnight into Monday, when more snow showers were expected in some areas.

In Philadelphia, commuters faced a mix of slushy ice and freezing rain Monday morning, but there was no major accumulation. The New York City area had 2 to 4 inches.

By dawn Monday, repair crews were responding to outages affecting 2,200 power customers in Maryland, northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

The Midwest appeared to have taken the brunt of the latest storm, receiving up to 2 feet of snow, with more expected in some areas early Monday. Nine traffic deaths were blamed on the storm: eight in Wisconsin and one in Kansas.

Heavy ice brought down miles of power lines and utility poles, mostly in Iowa, where nearly 250,000 customers were without electricity Sunday night. Close to 80,000 were without power in Illinois.

"It could be at least three days if not more than one week before we get all the customers back on," Alliant Energy spokesman Ryan Stensland said of conditions in Iowa. "We've got close to 2,500 poles down - over 500 miles of line down."

The storm's snow, sleet and freezing rain led airlines to cancel hundreds of flights Sunday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and dozens more at Midway Airport, said Wendy Abrams, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation. That was on top of cancellations Saturday. Abrams estimated that about 1,000 stranded passengers spent the night at O'Hare.

JetBlue canceled canceled flights into and out of Chicago and the Washington, D.C., area over the weekend, plus 68 on Monday at New York's Kennedy Airport.

During the Valentine's Day storm, JetBlue was heavily criticized after passengers were stranded on planes at Kennedy Airport for up to 10 1/2 hours because of the ice and snow. That storm led to more than 1,000 cancellations, and affected more than 100,000 passengers.

The latest cancellations were to make sure crews and planes were in the right places so the company can quickly resume operations after the storm, spokeswoman Alison Eshelman said Sunday.

Slippery conditions persisted on roads throughout Wisconsin on Sunday, leading to several fatal accidents. The Wisconsin State Patrol said blowing and drifting snow made portions of Interstate 43 impassable for several hours Sunday morning.

The National Weather Service in Michigan warned of widespread snow, strong wind and near blizzard conditions in parts of the state, with up to a foot of snow.

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Associated Press writers Brian Witte in Baltimore and Brett Zongker in Washington contributed to this report.


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