Storm strands U.S. holiday travelers, hundreds of flights canceled

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Travelers go through O’Hare International Airport before the Thanksgiving Day holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

(Reuters) – Many holiday travelers in the United States were stuck at airports on the final day of Thanksgiving weekend after more than 600 flights were canceled due to an incoming blizzard bearing down on the Midwest, according to weather officials.

Blizzard warnings were issued in areas stretching across northeast Kansas to Chicago, with snow already falling in some regions including Kansas, central Missouri, southeast Nebraska and southern Iowa, according to Bob Oravec, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

The storm was bringing winds from 30 to 35 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 45 to 50 mph. Snowfall totals were expected to be 6 to 12 inches across those areas.

Oravec said Kansas and Chicago were likely see “high impact” blizzard conditions later on Sunday.

“The effects of the storm is going to be spreading farther into the northeast,” Oravec said. “For the moment it’s okay in Chicago but conditions will be going downhill later on towards the evening.”

About 613 fights headed to or from the United States were canceled just before 2 p.m. EST, according to FlightAware.com.

Most of the cancellations were of flights departing or arriving to Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway Airport, which combined saw a total of about 425 flights canceled. At Kansas City International Airport, about 102 flights were canceled.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by David Gregorio

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