The first winter storm of the season, which has been named Draco, is currently pelting the mid-section of the country with icy snow and heavy winds. According to FlightStats as reported by NBCNews, almost 600 flights have been canceled at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Thursday because of winter storm 2012. Approximately 700 more flights have been grounded at the Kansas City International, Midway (Chicago), Detroit Metropolitan, Minneapolis-St. Paul International, and other Midwest airports.
Although the majority of air travelers in the region are experiencing delays because of the blizzard, winter storm 2012 has not completely halted traffic on the ground. Heather Johnson, an editor here at The Inquisitr, reports on her drive home earlier this evening, a 15 mile drive that usually takes 20 to 25 minutes but tonight took 45.
As Heather explains:
“I was at work when winter storm 2012 began. Driving to work at noon, I was sure that we were just going to get some rain and heavy winds. The temperature was still in the 40s. Although the winds were pretty heavy — my little Elantra was blowing all over the interstate — I thought it was going to stay too warm for snow.
“However, the rain abruptly changed into snow at around 3:00. I looked out the window and was surprised to see snow blowing across the University campus. The wind was blowing so hard — I’m told that winter storm 2012 is bringing us gusts of up to 58 MPH — that the snow was blowing sideways, parallel to the ground.
“I left work at 5:00 and had to fight the pelting snow and heavy winds as I tried to get my car cleaned off. The rain on the car had turned to ice and was covered in snow. The wind was blowing so hard that, when I opened my trunk to get out my scraper, a strong gust of wind slammed the trunk onto my head.
“In case I got stranded on the way home, I made the decision to stop for gas before I hit the interstate. Fortunately, gas prices were still at $3.15. With the blowing wind and the icy snow, however, I actually had to run inside the gas station to pay. The credit card slots and some of the buttons on the pumps were already frozen over with ice after just two hours of the blizzard.
“When I finally got on the interstate at around 5:20 pm, the going was extremely slow. The speed limit here is 65, but I found myself able to go no faster than 45 and needing to go only 25 at some points. The wind was blowing so hard that there were white-out conditions. With such little snow last year, winter storm 2012 has been quite a shock so far!
“Of course, despite the hazardous road conditions — when the wind was blowing at its hardest, I could no longer see the car that was no more than three car-lenghths in front of me — some semi-truck drivers and SUV drivers were still barrelling past me. A few cars were also going slower than me, including one car with its hazards on, something that really annoys me because the blinking looks like a stopped emergency vehicle.
“After almost 45 minutes in the heavy winds, icy snow, and occasional white-out conditions, I did make it home safely. My advice to other drives, though, is to stay home until winter storm 2012 is over!”
You can check out the hazardous road conditions caused by winter storm 2012 below. Also check out the pictures that Heather took of the Illinois State University campus as the blizzard began.
2:45 pm CST