"Old Man Winter" finally arrives in Midwest

Pedestrians battle blowing snow as they cross Clinton Street in downtown Iowa City, Iowa on Thursday
Pedestrians battle blowing snow as they cross Clinton Street in downtown Iowa City, Iowa on Thursday
Brian Ray,AP Photo/The Gazette

There was a big freeze in the Midwest Friday morning, following its first big snowstorm of the year.

Over the next two days, say forecasters, it will pile up from Michigan to New England.

The storm came amid a winter in which temperatures have hovered 10-to-12 degrees above normal.

At Chicago's O'Hare Airport, reports CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers, all Bruce General and Sonya White wanted Thursday was to get home to South Florida.

"We're on standby for today," said General, "tomorrow, maybe Saturday. So who knows?"

But they were stranded, like thousands of others in Chicago.

As the storm moved across Illinois, more than 500 flights were cancelled at Chicago's two major airports.

All because of the long delayed first big snowstorm of the season, which roared east out of the Rockies.

The snow and high winds turned roads into rinks in Denver, made commutes treacherous across the Midwest, including St. Louis, and turned one tractor-trailer into an unwilling off-road vehicle near Rockford, Ill.

This, after a winter that's been so mild that, earlier this week, people were water-skiing barefoot near Green Bay, Wis.

Many Midwest cities have barely seen snowfall since winter began, with only 2.9 inches falling last month in Green Bay, 2 inches in Des Moines Iowa, 1.7 inches in Chicago, and none in Terre Haute, Ind.

But the snowy weather was good news to some -- including those who make a living plowing snow.

Said one business owner, "We're not watching 'Jerry Springer' anymore. We're out there. The guys are happy. Plowing, sanding, salting."

In Chicago, they got more snow in one day than they've had in three months, bringing out the city's 300 snow plows, along with some who actually like snow and cold, such as Zora Popovic, who said, "Finally! Finally! It's snowing, and I'm happy!"

The storm was moving east, and expected to cause problems in the Northeast.