More than 100 million Americans were in the path of brutal winter storms Tuesday night, with the latest system expected to dump as much as 10 inches of snow on the Midwest before heading into the Northeast overnight and bringing all the travel headaches that go with it.
And another, bigger storm may be just days behind it.
Across the Midwest, municipalities were finding
it harder to manage the snowfalls.
In Kansas, the governor declared a state of
emergency. Across Indiana and Illinois Tuesday night, snow fell at rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour. And in Missouri, the snow came down so fast that road crews could not keep up. By
afternoon, the state was pleading with people to stay home. As much as 8
inches was predicted for the northern part of the state.
Along the storm's southern edge, ice caused vehicle spin-outs and knocked down power lines. By Tuesday afternoon, 40,000 outages were reported in Arkansas.
In the East, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the New York City region that continues until 6 p.m. Wednesday. Predictions are for 4 to 8
inches of snow and a quarter of an inch of ice.
Meanwhile, highway officials in 12
states reported that they needed more salt to spread on the snow and ice.
John West, the director of public works in Maywood, Ill., ordered 2,000 tons at the start of the season, all of it gone. Only 500 tons from a stop-gap purchase remain, which is about four or five days' worth.
"Hopefully more," West said.
Barges bearing salt for towns like Maywood are frozen into the Illinois River.
Elsewhere, Michigan has used 137 percent more salt this season, and Ohio, 206 percent. In Chicago, where just two winters have been this snowy in the last 129 years, streets have had to be cleared 26 times since Nov. 1.
And there is another potentially more serious shortage: blood. The Red Cross says blood donations were down 10 percent nationwide in January with some 770 blood drives were canceled in 27 states.
By Sunday, another storm could arrive as a nor'easter moving up the East Coast or it could blow out to sea, said Eric Fisher, chief meteorologist at CBS station WBZ in Boston.
"We're hoping to have a better handle on this by the time we get toward Thursday," he said. "No state of emergency just yet, that's for sure."
Airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights on Tuesday, bringing the total for the last two days to more than 3,600.
At the Delta Airlines operations center in Atlanta, Dave Holtz coordinates the company's 4,800 daily flights. He was leading 270 employees trying to get ahead of three winter storms.
"You got to have an airplane, you got to have a flight attendant crew, you got to have a pilot crew," he said. "Those are all three separate resources that you have to put together."
Delta had to cancel 583 flights on Monday due to the week's first storm. The second storm forced it to proactively cancel more than 500 flights Tuesday and Wednesday. Successive storms limit Holtz's options.
"Some of those aircraft or crews that we might position elsewhere in the Northeast, we'll position back in the Great Lakes behind the weather," he said. "So we're always trying to think ahead to make sure you don't double-hit yourself as an airline when you're planning your resources."