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Midwest Walloped With Snowstorm

December 12, 2000

DETROIT (AP) _ The Midwest was shoveling out and bundling up Tuesday after a winter storm delivered a one-two punch, dumping more than a foot of snow and sending temperatures plummeting.

The storm snarled air travel around the country Monday, shuttered schools in more than 10 states, and was blamed for power failures and scores of accidents. Early Tuesday, southern Michigan and northern Indiana lay in the storm’s path, with a foot or more of snow on the ground and another 5 inches expected.

In Michigan, hundreds of schools were closed Tuesday, and officials at Detroit Metropolitan Airport were preparing for a busy day as passengers whose flights were canceled tried to complete their journeys.

``I could’ve walked there by now,″ said Judy Grantz, stuck in Detroit after flying from Norfolk, Va., on her way to Lansing. She had been booked on four different flights _ all canceled.

The situation was the same in Chicago, where more than 24 hours after the storm hit airlines operating out of O’Hare International and Midway airports continued to cancel flights. City officials said it may be Wednesday before the two airports are running at full capacity.

``Tuesday will be slow as we begin recovering from the storm and we’ll likely have more cancelations and delays,″ said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation.

The storm was expected to taper off Tuesday morning.

Up to a foot of snow fell in Indiana, where near-blizzard conditions prevailed. South Bend, Ind., police ticketed drivers who could not justify being on the road. Authorities elsewhere took to patrolling snow-packed roads with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

The temperature never got higher than 6 above zero at St. Joseph, Mo., and the weather service reported highs hovering around zero in central and western Iowa.

``The big story here is the wind chill temperatures, running from 20 to 40 below,″ said meteorologist Jeff Johnson in Des Moines. ``If you lose control of your car and get stuck in a ditch, you’re looking at a situation where you’re at risk.″

Besides Michigan, blowing snow and cold closed schools in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Farther south, icy roads kept youngsters home in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, which had hundreds of traffic accidents.

Students at St. Clement School in Chicago were told shortly before noon Monday that classes were canceled the rest of the day and Tuesday.

``Everybody just jumped up. We were so excited!″ said 7-year-old Margaret Anne Kellas, a second-grader.

For the second time in less than a day an airplane slid off an icy taxiway at Kansas City International Airport. Nobody was hurt.

At least 10,000 utility customers in Indiana were without electricity for several hours early Tuesday because of lines downed by high wind. Power was also knocked out in several Iowa cities, while in Illinois 4,000 customers lost power.

At Chicago’s United Center, where the Chicago Bulls played the Phoenix Suns Monday night, those who made the game were welcomed to come down from the upper decks to the pricey seats closer to the playing floor, which were mostly empty.

In nearby Naperville, Craig Ward cleared snow from a grocery store parking lot for people stocking up on supplies.

``We’re right now way behind,″ he said of the progress being made by plow operators. ``We’re in trouble.″

Milwaukee saw its highest snowfall for a December day. By 10:30 p.m. Monday, 13.3 inches had fallen at Mitchell International Airport. The most snow previously recorded in a 24-hour period in December was 13.1 inches in 1987.

A Santa at the city’s Grand Avenue mall expressed boredom _ the storm meant his lap was empty during the normally busy holiday season.

``It’s hard to stay awake,″ Frank ``Santa″ Sensabaugh said.

Icy conditions in northeast Kansas caused at least one traffic-related death and stranded drivers. At Bruce’s wrecker service in Marysville, Kan., an employee said tow trucks spent more time getting cars moving than pulling them out of ditches.

``It’s blowing so hard that sometimes it’s like a whiteout, but other than that the roads are fine,″ Randy Jones said. ``We’ve had a few off the road, but we’ve had more not starting.″

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On the Net:

National Weather Service: http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/graphicsversion/bigmain.html

Intellicast: http://www.intellicast.com

Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com