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Snow, cold stretches from upper Midwest to Virginia

By the CNN Wire Staff
Parts of Illinois got a weekend dose of winter weather.
Parts of Illinois got a weekend dose of winter weather.
  • NEW: A winter storm warning is out for parts of North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia
  • NEW: 5 inches of snow fell in Chicago and Madison, while 3 inches fell in Indianapolis
  • The storm's timing, after Friday rush hour, helped minimize its impact in Chicago
  • Temperatures are 5 to 15 degrees colder than normal on much of the East Coast

(CNN) -- Accompanied by unusually cold temperatures, snow fell late Saturday from Minnesota east to Virginia, prompting a series of warnings but few major headaches.

One major storm system affected communities from Chicago, Illinois, to Raleigh, North Carolina, as many residents spent the first part of their weekend dealing with the first significant snow of the season.

Throughout the East Coast, temperatures averaged about 5 to 15 degrees colder than normal, with freeze watches in effect as far south as Florida.

By 7:15 p.m., just over 5 inches of snow had fallen at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, breaking the 1964 record for December 4 of 4.6 inches. A winter weather advisory remained in effect in the Windy City through midnight.

More than 300 flights were canceled in and out of Chicago Saturday morning, the Chicago Department of Aviation said. The situation improved gradually over the course of the day, though O'Hare was still experiencing ground traffic delays -- for the planes that touch down, but are slower getting to their gates -- ranging from 16 to 30 minutes by early evening.

The timing of the storm -- coming after the Friday evening rush hour, with most snow falling while people slept -- and the fact snow didn't stick to most major roads helped keep auto accidents minimal.

"It's Chicago, it's great," resident Casey Gorski told CNN affiliate WLS. "I've got no qualms about (the snow) at all."

Thundersnow caught on camera

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning through 7 a.m. ET Sunday for Appalachian regions of northwest North Carolina, southwest Virginia and southeast West Virginia. While the accumulating snow was expected to be fairly minor, forecasters warned of icy roads and winds gusting as strong as 45 mph.

In addition, expected light snow prompted the agency to issue a winter weather advisory -- effective until 1 a.m. ET -- for parts of southern and central Virgina as well as northeast North Carolina.

Residents of southern and eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin already saw considerable snow. A foot fell in Hutchinson, Minnesota, about double that in Minneapolis some 60 miles to the east, according to the National Weather Service.

Madison, Wisconsin, got between 3 and 5 inches of snow Saturday, and some snow also fell in the southwest Ohio city of Cincinnati.

Indianapolis also was in the storm's path. The National Weather Service reported 3 inches had fallen and it predicted flurries in the city through Tuesday. The most snow in Indiana -- 7 inches -- accumulated 70 miles to the west in Clinton.

Other cities in Indiana and Michigan are expected to be hit hard by snow in the coming days.

Five to 10 inches of lake-effect snow were forecast for Valparaiso, Indiana, located about 50 miles southeast of Chicago, with Gary, Indiana, also feeling the storm's effect.

Other more eastern communities along Lake Michigan -- such as Michigan City, Indiana, and St. Joseph and Buchanan across the border in Michigan -- may get as much as 20 inches of snow by daybreak Tuesday. The National Weather Service has issued a warning for lake-effect snow for many of these areas from 8 p.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Tuesday, predicting snow might fall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches an hour.

Earlier this week, the Buffalo, New York, area, was being buried by such sustained lake-effect snow.

That Wednesday through Friday storm dumped up to 3 feet of snow in a narrow band centered in Lancaster -- though locations as little as 12 miles away only got 6 to 12 inches, if not less. Forecasters are also predicting more snow this week in the region.