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More than 1,200 flights canceled as winter storm pummels Chicago area

Pedestrians faced high winds in the Loop as snow began to fall Wednesday. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A winter storm pummeled the Chicago area Wednesday, dumping more than a foot of snow over parts of northwest Indiana and canceling more than 1,200 flights at city airports.

By early evening, Cedar Lake, Indiana, topped the region with 13 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

Whitewashed roads and blizzard conditions forced the Porter County sheriff’s office to declare a state of emergency on their highways when snow plows couldn’t keep up with the snowfall.

The snow didn’t stick as well in Chicago, with totals ranging between an inch and 2 inches by late afternoon, forecasters said.

It was enough for airlines to cancel more than 975 flights at O’Hare as of 8:30 p.m., with delays between half an hour and 90 minutes, according to the city’s Department of Aviation. At least 310 flights were grounded at Midway with others delayed an average of 20 minutes.

Metra lines didn’t have any major delays Wednesday, but the transit agency warned customers to allow for extra travel time if the weather created “unanticipated delays or service disruptions.”

Several Illinois school districts preemptively canceled classes Wednesday morning in anticipation of the storm, and many more did likewise in Indiana, where the lake-effect snow was heaviest.

The strong winds and slushy conditions were expected to taper off by Thursday morning, though more flurries were possible in the afternoon as temperatures top out at 34, forecasters said.

School Closing Information: Emergency Closing Center