Midwest Starts Digging Out From Biggest Snowstorm In More Than Two Years

Chicago was under almost a foot of snow on Wednesday after a winter storm swept through the Midwest.

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In the nation's capitol, that Snowquester, the storm we mentioned, has mostly been rain so far. But across the country a blanket of freshly fallen snow, some of it more than a foot deep, now extends from the Dakotas to the Eastern Seaboard. Thousands of flights have been cancelled and nearly 200,000 homes and businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region lost power. We have two reports, starting in Chicago with NPR's David Schaper.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Operations at Chicago's O'Hare International are gradually returning to normal after airlines here cancelled nearly 1,000 flights into and out of one of the world's busiest airports yesterday. But the effects of the storm that dumped nearly 10 inches of snow here are still being felt.

DILLARD HILL: My name's Dillard Hill. I'm from Kentucky and I flew in from Lexington Airport here yesterday.

SCHAPER: Hill says he was supposed to get on a flight here to Germany.

HILL: We got over here and it started snowing and so I waited all day just to have it cancelled two hours before. And now I get to wait here again all day before I head out.

SCHAPER: But Dean Trong(ph), who is headed home to Washington, D.C. after living abroad in South Korea, might not be so lucky.

DEAN TRONG: My flight to D.C. at 1:00 is canceled until 6:00 but because of the weather, my dog can't fly with me. So I might be stuck in Chicago for the night.

SCHAPER: That later flight might not leave on time or at all because of the weather out east, which is making Trong...

TRONG: Pretty anxious. I'm very nervous right now. It's a surprise. I'm surprising my parents. They don't know I'm coming in, so I'm trying to just get home and, you know, greet the family. I haven't seen them in a year-and-a-half.

SCHAPER: Elsewhere in Chicago and across the upper Midwest, people are digging out from the biggest snowstorm in more than two years. In Chicago, most of the main roadways have been cleared, so snow plows are now turning their attention to the side streets. On the city's northwest side, after clearing his and his neighbors' sidewalks, Ron Prohaska takes his snow blower out into the street ahead of the plows.

RON PROHASKA: Because when the trucks come down the street they just bank up onto the side of the vehicles. So when it freezes it makes it hard to get them out.

SCHAPER: But besides the little extra work outside this morning, Prohaska is rather nonchalant about the nine plus inches of snow on the ground.

PROHASKA: Chicago, what do you expect?

SCHAPER: He says it's more surprising we haven't had more snows like this recently. David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.

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