Blowing snow and freezing rain closed schools and snarled pre-Christmas travel Tuesday from the Plains to the Northeast, stranding people in airports and sending others rushing to finish their holiday shopping.
A nor’easter along the East Coast threatened to make it even worse, with a foot or more possible from northern West Virginia through Pennsylvania and New York.
“I hadn’t really started my Christmas shopping, and now I’m trying to cram it all into a few hours,” said Sally Ashton of Morristown, N.J.
Ice on power lines blacked out thousands of people in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Slippery roads shut down schools from Kansas to Connecticut. And most New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana state employees were sent home early.
Up to 10 inches of snow had fallen by noon from Oklahoma to Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, with lesser amounts blowing through the Ohio Valley to the East Coast.
Lambert Airport at St. Louis opened an hour late in the morning, then shut down for two hours because of ice and drifting snow. In Cleveland, Hopkins International was open intermittently because of poor visibility. A British Airways Concorde was diverted from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Bradley International near Hartford, Conn.
More than 125 flights were canceled at New Jersey’s Newark International, and arrivals were delayed more than an hour.
Elsewhere, airports from Chicago to Baltimore reported cancellations and delays.