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Wicked winter storm slams Chicago; East Coast next

1:59 PM, Mar 5, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Winter storm slams Midwest, targets East coast

Commuters walk through snow in downtown Chicago on Tuesday. (Photo: Kiichiro Sato, AP)

A furious winter storm that already dumped freezing rain and a foot of snow on parts of the Upper Midwest slammed into Chicago on Tuesday, continuing its angry march east.

The storm was forecast to blast Chicago with 7 to 10 inches of snow by Tuesday night. Cincinnati was bracing for up to six inches of a nasty mix of snow, sleet and ice, and Indianapolis was awaiting 3 to 6 inches. A bit more was expected outside the city.

Winter storm warnings were in effect for parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

As the storm heads east, "it's not going to be a fluffy snow," National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro said. "It will be thick, gloppy, wallpaper paste-type snow. And gusty winds will add to the stress."

Charlottesville, Va., two hours outside Washington, could be among the hardest-hit areas; forecasters were calling for 10 to 14 inches. Martin Hardware was ready for the rush of last-minute shovel shoppers.

"We are prepared," said Dinah Jarrell, co-manager of the store that dates back more than 100 years. She said the store has stocked thousands of snow shovels and has a tractor trailer full of ice melt.

"They've been calling for snow all winter, but we haven't actually had much yet," Jarrell said. "People have been skeptical, but they are coming in now. And I hate to say it, but we are delighted."

More than 1,370 flight flights were canceled Tuesday at major airports from Chicago and Minneapolis to New York and Washington, according to flight tracking firm FlightStats. Those cancellations come on top of 366 canceled across the USA Monday, bringing the two-day cancellation tally to about 1,700.

North and South Dakota and Minnesota took the brunt of the storm Monday. Several inches were already on the ground in Minneapolis early Tuesday, and KARE-TV meteorologist Sven Sundgaard said the city could see up to 9 inches before the snow ends Tuesday afternoon.

The weather service said Grand Forks, N.D., received 7 inches on Monday, a record for the date. Minot, N.D., not only got a foot of snow but also set a rainfall record, as did Williston. Williston also got 6 inches of snow.

On Wednesday, the area most likely to receive a foot or more of snow is across the higher elevations of eastern West Virginia into Charlottesville and other parts of Virginia, AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

The snow could lead to power outages in portions of North Carolina, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

The storm should bring 4 to 8 inches of snow to Washington and Baltimore metro areas, along with coastal flooding along the East Coast later Wednesday into Thursday. It will likely be the heaviest snowfall for Washington and Baltimore so far this season. Washington has seen only 1.5 inches of snow this winter, while Baltimore has picked up 4.8 inches.

The region's three big airports - Washington Dulles, Washington Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington international - are not especially delay-prone, but those conditions will likely create problems if the forecasts hold.

The Weather Channel has named the storm Saturn, as part of its winter storm naming system. No other private weather services, or the federal government, are using this name. The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has called the storm "Snowquester" in honor of the federal government's current sequester.

Contributing: Doyle Rice; Ben Mutzabaugh; Alia E. Dastagir; (N.D.) staff; the Associated Press

John Bacon, USA TODAY

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