Skip to main content

Storm strands motorists, air travelers and promises more

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
Snowstorm socks the Midwest, moves east
  • NEW: The storm has moved into Canada, but cold weather remains in eastern U.S.
  • Some motorists in northwest Indiana remain stranded
  • The storm is expected to impact eastern United States through the middle of the week

Is there wintry weather near you? Tell us about it at iReport.

(CNN) -- The main thrust of a raging storm that dumped snow in parts of the Midwest over the weekend moved north of the border Monday, but the United States will still feel some of its effects in the form of rain, snow or frigid temperatures.

The low pressure system that brought snow the Midwest and below freezing temperatures deep into the South was centered in Canada north of Maine late Monday. The Northeast could expect rain for most of the night, but some snow in New York and Vermont.

The Great Lakes area could see up to two feet more of lake-effect snow -- on top of what fell there last week -- through Tuesday morning.

And the cold in the east isn't going away anytime soon.

The storm clogged up travel over the weekend, stranding motorists and delaying flights -- and even forcing the delay of an NFL game when the inflatable roof of Minnesota's Metrodome collapsed under 16 inches of snow.

Watch the Metrodome collapse
Snow causes Metrodome roof to collapse

In northwest Indiana, at least two counties declared a state of emergency and urged drivers to stay off the roads. Police and highway crews struggled to dig out some stranded motorists and clear roads covered with blowing and drifting snow.

LaPorte County Sheriff's Deputy Patrick Drangmeister said several motorists remained stranded Monday in various locations throughout the county. He said every available deputy was out trying to help. Motorists were urged to avoid all but highly essential travel.

At the Indiana State Police post in Lowell, which covers LaPorte and Porter County, which is also under a state of emergency, Sgt. Chad Woody said as many as 75 vehicles had been stranded Sunday night along a stretch of Indiana Route 2 near I-65 that has since been cleared.

"Our primary concerns are the secondary roads," he said. "The interstates seem to be in pretty good shape at this time."

The problem, particularly in LaPorte and Porter counties, was a double whammy from lake-effect snow and high wind that was blowing snow back onto roadways as soon as it's cleared, said Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Jim Pinkerton in LaPorte.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, resident David Volmerding was among those caught in the storm while trying to make it home from Chicago with his wife, Donna.

"You literally could not see the road at all," he said. "You just had to come to a stop and wait for a chance to see something."

The weather forced them to stop in Wanatah, Indiana, where they sought refuge in the local Burger King. When weather forced the restaurant to close, they moved to the fire station. They were spending Monday at the city's town hall, watching a forecast that could force them to spend another night in Watanah.

The road they were traveling, U.S. 30, was one of two in northwest Indiana closed due to weather. The other was U.S. 6 south of LaPorte.

The National Weather Service posted winter weather notices Monday for portions of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York and the New England states as the storm moved eastward.

High wind warnings accompanied chilly temperatures as far south as Alabama, Georgia and Florida, forcing NASA to delay a scheduled test of the space shuttle Discovery's damaged external fuel tank at the Kennedy Space Center.

Temperatures in the South weren't expected to rise above freezing. In the Midwest, temperatures weren't forecast to rise above the teens.

Although airlines canceled more than 1,700 flights Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration was reporting no weather-related delays at airports around the country as of mid-day Monday.

United Airlines reported it had canceled 12 flights at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. Continental Airlines said it had pulled the plug on 96 flights at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, where forecasters say as much as a foot of snow could fall by the end of the week.

In Ohio, Kent State University student Katy Brown said she was spending the day relaxing and watching TV after getting a text message from the school saying that afternoon exams were canceled after a foot of snow.

"They finally got some common sense," she said.

Parts of Tennessee saw as much as 8 inches of snow. The snow was lighter in Nashville, but state troopers still responded to 164 crashes, spokesman Mike Browning said.

In Minneapolis, workers began trying to repair the roof of the Metrodome, where the Minnesota Vikings play.

The roof collapsed under the weight of snow, forcing the NFL to delay Sunday's scheduled Vikings game against the New York Giants until Monday night and to move it to Detroit.

Meanwhile, school children there got a day off. Minneapolis Public Schools called off classes for Monday as a result of heavy snows and dangerously cold temperatures.

CNN iReporter Jack Paar of St. Paul, Minnesota, said this was the worst blizzard he has seen in the six years he has lived there. He captured footage of a person cross-country skiing down a street.

"That's the best way to get around -- cross-country skis," Paar said amid cars immobilized by snow.

The snow caused the roof of the 64,000-seat Metrodome in Minneapolis to collapse Sunday morning, Minnesota State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said.

Workers wielding shovels could be seen clearing the roof of the heavy white stuff, while photos from inside the darkened stadium showed much of the field covered with snow that fell from a gaping hole in the dome.

Roy Terwilliger, chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission -- the group that oversees the Metrodome -- said that the heavy snow and cold, plus high winds were "too much pressure on the dome, and several panels on the Teflon roof were caused to rip."

By late Sunday night, sheets of ice, many large ice chunks and snow remained frozen on the field.

Steve Maki, facilities director at the facilities commission, said this was the fourth collapse of the Metrodome due to snow.

"It looks worse than what it is, in some respects, because the repair, as I understand it, will be basically to unclamp the old fabric and clamp new fabric in its place and then blow the roof back up," Maki said Sunday night.

CNN's Holly Yan, Chris Welch, Rob Marciano, T.J. Holmes, Helena DeMoura and Adam Shivers contributed to this report.