The busiest travel weekend of the year got a bit busier in the Midwest.
Blizzard-like conditions in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois caused a flurry of cancellations and delays on Sunday at Kansas City International Airport and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, creating a Thanksgiving weekend travel nightmare.
“As a city, we are used to snow, but it is the first of the season,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago said at an evening news conference. “It is an all-hands-on-deck effort for the city.”
Mr. Emanuel said he was rallying resources to streamline Monday morning’s commute for Chicagoans. Gov. Jeff Colyer of Kansas declared a state of disaster emergency, enabling state resources to be used for the response to the snowstorm.
Over 600 flights have been canceled at O’Hare, and over 120 flights have been canceled at Midway Airport in Chicago, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.com.
Because of low visibility on Sunday afternoon, no flights were taking off or landing at the Kansas City airport, in Missouri. Several flights were scheduled for late Sunday evening.
“The accumulation of the snow and ice coupled with the wind has been a lot for our crews to contend with,” said Joe McBride, a spokesman for the Kansas City airport. “Visibility is improving, but we have too much snow covering the airfield.”
The National Weather Service expected three to nine inches of snow to accumulate in parts of Kansas and Missouri, which faces wind gusts as high as 55 miles per hour.
But the Weather Service expects the storm to have cleared out of Kansas, Missouri and Illinois by the middle of Monday morning, according to David Roth, a forecaster with the Weather Service. The storm is expected to head east-northeast and end up in Maine.
“It will be one of the snowier Novembers on record for Maine,” Mr. Roth said.
The University of Kansas, in Lawrence, canceled its classes for Monday, and Mr. Colyer asked residents to stay home. The National Weather Service also warned people about traveling in the blizzard-like conditions.
“If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you,” it said in a statement. “If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle.”
More than 50 million Americans were expected to travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving, according to AAA, a 4.8 percent increase from last year.