|Snow and ice hit US and Canada, at least four dead|
by Eileen Ogintz
CHICAGO (AFP) — The first massive winter storm of the season made its way toward the northeastern United States and Canada after lashing the Midwest, leaving at least four dead in car accidents and disrupting air travel, officials and media reported Sunday.
Heavy snow and freezing rain forced the cancellation of numerous flights in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois and some campaign events in Iowa, where presidential candidates will face their first test in a month for the 2008 White House race.
At Des Moines airport in Iowa, a United Airlines regional jet bound for Chicago slid off an icy taxiway on Saturday morning, closing the airport for more than six hours, airport and airline officials said. No one was seriously injured.
In Wisconsin a 37-year-old man died when a jeep hit a truck near DeForest as other cars ahead were slowing down for another truck that had tipped over on a highway, the Wisconsin State Journal reported on Sunday.
Two people died in separate crashes in the same Juneau County area on Interstate 90-94, the paper said.
In Indiana, a member of the Purdue University ice hockey club team was killed and seven teammates were injured when their van crashed Saturday in freezing rain, the Indianapolis Star reported.
The crash occurred 17 miles (27 kilometers) south of West Lafayette, home to the university, when one of the team's vans swerved out of control on a two-lane highway and rolled over.
Purdue said 20 hockey players, two coaches and a manager were headed to Danville, Illinois for a late-afternoon game.
In Madison, Wisconsin, city officials declared a snow emergency through at least 7:00 am (1200 GMT) Monday.
Snow flurries on Saturday were followed by freezing rain later in the day in Midwestern states and the National Weather Service said cold air moving into the region could produce sleet and more freezing rain in parts of Iowa and Illinois. Light snow was forecast for parts of Wisconsin.
As the storm moved toward the northeast, the National Weather Service predicted heavy snow would hit the state of New York and across New England. Freezing rain and sleet was expected across much of New York, Pennsylvania, and northwest New Jersey.
The Federal Aviation Authority reported Sunday afternoon delays averaging one hour to more than two hours at major east coast airports from Philadelphia to New York.
New York City deployed all of its salt trucks to try and keep roadways from getting slick as the first snowfall of the season was expected to turn icy and possibly treacherous, the department of sanitation said according to NY1 television.
The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec were also experiencing heavy snowfall that caused major delays and cancellations at Toronto airport, Canada's largest.
Several dozen flights were canceled Sunday morning from Toronto, where snow overnight transformed into freezing rain by sunrise. A number of flights coming from Detroit, Chicago and New York were also cancelled.
The Canadian weather service warned of perilous conditions due to the snow.
"Dangerous winter traveling conditions are expected across Ontario as the snow may possibly be heavy at times which can cause brief whiteout conditions," it said.
"Roads will be snow covered and slippery due to freezing rain and ice pellets. Travel plans should be altered accordingly."