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Weekend winter storm sweeping from Midwest to New England

CHICAGO (AP) — A winter storm started sweeping across the Midwest on Friday, leading to slick roads and runways, as it inched its way toward New England, where it was forecast to dump up to 2 feet (0.61 meters) of snow.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings from the Dakotas, across the Great Lakes states and into New England. The weather service at one point warned that conditions in New England over the weekend “could approach blizzard criteria.” Ice was also a possibility in some areas in the storm’s path.

In Nebraska, where freezing drizzle was falling Friday afternoon, authorities closed Omaha’s Eppley Airfield after a Southwest Airlines plane slid off an ice-slicked runway. No one was injured. Eppley suspended all flights for a few hours before it was reopened. But airport officials warned that most flights would continue to be delayed.

In Iowa, the Department of Transportation warned that visibility was less than a half mile in many locations due to snow and wind. And in South Dakota, where snow was starting to pile up, authorities warned drivers to give plows extra room.

Chris Nace, who works at a Domino’s pizza in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, said several inches of snow had accumulated since early morning and the conditions were slowing down delivery drivers.

“The plows are just getting out,” he said late afternoon. “Just the main roads are cleared. They haven’t gotten to the side streets yet.” But drivers are used to such conditions, he added, and customers “are pretty understanding.”

The storm was expected to bring between up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow to the Midwest before walloping the Northeast on Sunday. The National Weather Service in Albany, New York, said snow could fall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.5 centimeters) an hour, creating “difficult to impossible travel conditions” in areas.

In New York City, the worst of the storm is expected from Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, with snow accumulations of 3-6 inches (7.5-15 centimeters), followed by rain that could turn to ice as temperatures drop later Sunday. Single-digit temperatures could last into Monday. Strong wind gusts beginning Sunday afternoon could bring down snow- or ice-burdened tree limbs and power lines.

Officials warn of flight disruptions at airports, as well as possible changes in train schedules. The Chicago Department of Aviation reported more than 300 flights at O’Hare and Midway international airports had been canceled as of Friday evening. Amtrak canceled some trains Saturday from Chicago to Washington and New York and between New York and Boston and Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Chicago is forecast to receive as much as 8 inches by Saturday and wind gusts in the Chicago area are expected to reach 35 mph (56 kph).

Bitterly cold air was expected in the storm’s aftermath.

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Associated Press writers Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska, Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Verena Dobnik in New York City contributed to this report.

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