CHICAGO — A fast-moving winter storm was expected to blanket much of the central Midwest with snow on Sunday at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, grounding hundreds of flights and forcing the closure of part of a major highway on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
"It's going to be messy," said Todd Kluber, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service who is based in suburban Chicago.
With much of the central plains and Great Lakes region under blizzard or winter storms warnings, nearly 500 flights headed to or from the U.S. had been canceled as of 11 a.m. Sunday, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.
Many were supposed to be routed through Chicago or Kansas City — areas forecast to be hit hard by the storm.
Strong winds and snow were expected to create blizzard conditions across much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. The National Weather Service was warning those conditions would make travel difficult in places.
Other parts of central plains and Great Lakes region were under a winter storm warning, that could see a foot or more of snow dumped in some places.
In eastern Nebraska, part of Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha was closed Sunday morning because of multiple accidents after snow blanketed that area. That included semitrailer trucks jackknifed across the highway. It was re-opened by Sunday afternoon.
As much as a foot was expected in Chicago. Between 4 to 6 inches of snow was expected in the Kansas City area. Forecasters predict more than a foot of snow is likely in southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa.
By Monday morning, the storm was expected to hit parts of northern Indiana and southern Michigan.
Kluber said the storm was expected to hit the Chicago region sometime Sunday evening. He said rain will give way to heavy snowfall and "near whiteout conditions" that will make for dangerous travel.