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Light snow, strong winds close highways

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

Weather forecasters were spot-on this time around, forecasting a bit of snow -- but not much -- and plenty of wind.

The wind, creating white-out conditions in much of the region, forced the closure of Interstate 70 as the snow moved east and motels started filling to capacity. Other area highways were closed as well due to visibility issues.

The interstate closure made it all the way to Russell before conditions started improving slightly.

This morning, all the roads in northwest Kansas were open, even though they continue to be snowpacked and icy -- creating some troublesome driving conditions.

Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Hileman this morning reported cars sliding off the highway at Commerce Parkway, but said conditions generally were improving.

Overnight snowfall amounted to 1.1 inches, but today's high is expected to reach 34 degrees.

The storm that impacted northwest Kansas continued to march across the Midwest today, shuttering schools, creating treacherous roadways and threatening to slow down one of the nation's busiest airports ahead of the holiday weekend.

The heaviest snow was expected across a swath extending from northwest Missouri into Milwaukee, Chicago and Michigan, with predictions of as much as a foot of snow in some areas, according to the National Weather Service. Before the storm, several cities in the Midwest had broken records for the number of consecutive days without measurable snow.

Light snow, strong winds and low clouds could make visibility poor and cause delays at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the nation's second-busiest airport, according to the National Weather Service. The weather already has prompted Delta and United Airlines to allow many affected travelers to change schedules without incurring fees.

By Wednesday night, snow had blanketed parts of Iowa and Nebraska as the storm moved out of eastern Colorado and across parts of Kansas. Several states were reporting numerous traffic accidents, including one fatality in Nebraska.

"There are a few truckers stranded here. And we have some semis that have rolled over and we have some that have jackknifed," said Ashley Brozek, a clerk at Eagle Travel Center in Tribune. "We also have a UPS driver that is stranded and a local family has let him in for the night."

* The Associated Press contributed to this report.