Blizzard hits central US, heads Northeast; air travel takes a hit

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Flights

CHICAGO-(CNN) — A winter storm ramping up in the Great Plains put the metropolitan Chicago area’s more than 9 million people under a blizzard warning Sunday, and another 65 million people are under a winter storm warning across 18 states. The storm has the Northeast in its sights next.

Chicago could get as much as 15 inches of snow from the storm system, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

“The streets will stay plowed and passable so people will be safe and secure,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised at a news conference Sunday. More than 350 pieces of equipment, including plows and salt spreaders, fanned out across the city, officials said.

Up to a foot of snow was forecast in parts of Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. Multiple winter storm warnings are in place from eastern Nebraska and South Dakota to the Plains.

The storm will move east and affect major metropolitan areas such as New York City and Boston on Monday, Guy said. “New York City could see a wintry mix of precipitation just in time for the morning commute with a possibility of sleet and ice,” and Boston will “get another round of wintery weather with new snow accumulations from 10 to 12 inches,” he said.

More than 2,000 U.S. flights were canceled Sunday, many of them in and out of Chicago, according to Flightaware.com, an online flight tracking service.

“Rain will be the problem across the southern portions of this storm system, with a possibility of scattered storms from east Texas to Mississippi Sunday as the storm moves east.,” Guy said.

CNN’s Kimberly Hutcherson, Joe Sutton, and meteorologist Derek Van Dam contributed to this report