Hundreds of flights cancelled as winter storm Bella sweeps through Chicago

Airline flights were canceled out of Chicago and the Midwest dug out Saturday from a snow storm that dumped more than 10 inches in at least five states. 

Joe Ahlquist/The Argus Leader via AP
Motorists make their way through the snow on Marson Drive during the first snow of the season Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Winter storm Bella clobbered communities across the Midwest bringing heavy snow, ice, and poor visibility on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Saturday was off to rough start for travelers in Illinois, as more than 200 flights had been canceled at Chicago's O'Hare airport as of 2 p.m. Central Time, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the snowy weather was creating delays for other flights nationwide, averaging around an hour

The winter storm stretched from Lower Michigan to northern Indiana, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, the Weather Channel reported.

The storm, which began earlier this week, hammered South Dakota hardest, where it dropped the most snow 18 inches, according to weather.com. Nearly 17 inches were reported in George, Iowa, and near Footville, Wisconsin.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation issued a no-travel advisory due to weather midday Friday for a large area across the southeastern portion of the state. 

"A lot of people complaining about it, nobody wants to be out in it," Bret Brown, a cashier at Roadway Express truck stop in Sioux Falls told the Associated Press. "Interstates are down to 10 miles per hour, the side streets are blocked and there's a lot of cars in ditches everywhere."

Multiple traffic accidents were reported on roadways in some cities. Sioux Falls city officials told KSFY station that at least 66 accidents occurred between 7 am and 10 am Friday on roadways around the city.

Winter storm warnings continue from parts of eastern Iowa into northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including the Quad Cities, Madison, Rockford, Milwaukee and Chicago, according to the Weather Channel.

While the storm may have inconvenienced, or been a hardship to many, various cities took measures to manage the wintry conditions.  

Cities across Northern Illinois prepped snow-removal trucks and reminded drivers to give plows plenty of room as the storm approached Friday night. Utility company ComEd increased staffing to make sure crews were ready to respond to any power outages.

In the southern Wisconsin town of Janesville, between 10 and 20 inches of snow had fallen by Saturday afternoon.

Snow totals in the northern suburbs of Chicago topped initial forecasts of six to 10 inches, said National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley — 12.5 inches in Woodstock and 11.7 inches in Roscoe, the Associated Press reported.

The snowfall is "right on track" for the season, said Richard Otto, lead forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Prediction Center. But don't look for it to be the picturesque light, fluffy snow that often occurs in the dead of winter, he said - much of it will be wet and heavy.

Bella is forecast to head northeast into Canada late Saturday. Much colder air was forecast to spill across the Midwest behind the storm.

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