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Another winter storm snows out US Midwest

world Updated: Feb 21, 2011 21:56 IST

Heavy snowfall blanketed parts of the US Midwest on Monday, prompting hundreds of cancelled flights and icy conditions for road travelers, officials warned, with the Northeast bracing for the system as it rolled towards the Atlantic.

Blizzard warnings were issued for parts of the Dakotas and the north central state of Minnesota as an Arctic airmass brought a cold front and localized heavy snowfall from Illinois to New York state, the National Weather Service said in a statement early on Monday.

Officials issued a winter storm warning for the region that advised against non essential travel, which was said to be "very hazardous or impossible"; a headache for the fewer commuters than usual, due to the US national Presidents' Day holiday.

Some 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow has already dropped in parts of Michigan since midday Sunday, meteorologists said, also advising that freezing rain and heavy sleet were expected across the region. Hundreds of flights were canceled at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport, including 700 flights from Delta alone, in anticipation of a steady accumulation of up to 18 inches (45 cm) of snow, officials and local media reported.

Whipping up snow into dangerous drifts and impacting visibility, the weather service said winds around 30 miles per hour (48 kph), with higher gusts, were sweeping across the northern and central states.

The storm system was unlikely to eclipse the enormous storm that shut down large parts of the US South and Midwest earlier this month, which itself came on the heels of an enormous system that forced millions of Americans to dig out from one of the largest storms since the 1950s.