A late winter storm packing up to 10 inches of snow sent authorities in weather-hardened Chicago into action Tuesday to prevent a repeat of scenes from two years ago, when a blizzard stranded hundreds of people in cars and buses.
The storm rolling into Chicago was expected to dump the most snow the city has seen since the 2011 blizzard. The storm system started Sunday in Montana, hit the Dakotas and Minnesota on Monday and then barreled through Wisconsin and Illinois on its way to Washington, where it was expected late Tuesday night.
Even in Chicago, some were caught off guard by the last gasp of winter.
“I thought it was just media hype,” said Stacia Copplin, who was fleeing her financial services job shortly after noon and walking through the blast of wet snow to catch a train to the suburbs.
Schools were closed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, where officials urged caution on snow-slickened roads. In western Wisconsin, a semi-trailer slid off a snow-covered interstate near Menomonie and into the Red Cedar River, killing one person. Authorities said they were searching for a second person, believed to be a passenger.
Airlines canceled more than 1,100 flights at Chicago airports, prompting delays and closures at others around the region.