Winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

A major winter storm that blanketed most of the U.S. Midwest with snow earlier in the weekend barrelled toward New England Sunday, where it was expected to cause transportation havoc ranging from slick and clogged roads to hundreds of cancelled airline flights.

Winter storm warnings or advisories in 15 states from Missouri to Maine

Residents of Chicago dig out after a snowstorm passed through the area on Saturday. The weather system affecting southern Ontario, southern Quebec and the Maritimes will also wallop New England. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A major winter storm that has brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season covered a large swath of the U.S. in snow as it wreaked havoc on air travel and caused slick road conditions throughout New England Sunday.

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country, with Boston Logan Airport being one of the hardest hit, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company. The U.S. National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings or advisories for part or all of at least 15 states stretching from southeast Missouri to the northern tip of Maine.

The storm was caused by the clash of an Arctic high pressure system with a low pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Hofmann.

"It happens that this one is going through a relatively high population area," Hofmann said.

60 cm possible in New England

Parts of northern New England could see up to 60 centimetres of snow, which will be followed Sunday night by bitter cold and wind chills as low as –37 in parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Parts of upstate New York got up to 28 centimetres of snow overnight, according to the Weather Channel.

The same weather system is affecting eastern Canada, bringing winter storm warnings to parts of southern and eastern Ontario, parts of Quebec including Montreal, and into the Maritimes.

Some New Englanders welcomed the fresh snow. Nicholas Nicolet and his six-year-old son Rocco got outside early Sunday morning to enjoy the snow in Montpelier, Vt., as they cross-country skied on the city's sidewalks during the storm.

"We think it's great," said Nicolet, who said he and his son were out the door by 7 a.m.

Earlier, the system dumped up to 25 centimetres of snow on parts of the Midwest Saturday.

Plane slides off runway

A plane carrying 129 people skidded from a slick runway at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Saturday. No injuries were reported on the United Airlines flight as it arrived from Phoenix, Chicago Fire officials said.

In Kansas, a snowplow driver was killed when the plow drove onto the shoulder of a road and rolled over, throwing him under the vehicle. It wasn't clear why the driver had moved to the shoulder from the roadway.

A vehicle spins out on Interstate 94 in Detroit after a storm dumped 25 centimetres on some areas. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

A 15-vehicle crash on slippery roads blocked a section of Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri near Ste. Genevieve Saturday afternoon, and drivers were urged to find an alternative route. In Detroit, many motorists were moving well below posted speed limits along freeways due to slushy conditions. Amtrak cancelled some trains Saturday from Chicago to Washington and New York and between New York and Boston and Pennsylvania on Sunday.

As the storm system moves east, the frigid Arctic air behind it was expected to envelop many parts of the Midwest where it had just snowed.

"The air that it is bringing down with it is very, very cold," Hofmann said.

Trump hopes for 'good old fashioned Global Warming'

U.S. President Donald Trump remarked at how large the storm system was in a tweet early Sunday, urging Americans affected by the winter storm to "be careful."

The snowfall, shown here in Chicago, was to give way to frigid temperatures in many areas. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

"Amazing how big this system is. Wouldn't be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!" Trump tweeted.

He has conflated short-term weather patterns with longer-term climate change before, even though the White House's own National Climate Assessment rejects the idea that a particular plunge in temperatures can cast uncertainty on whether Earth is warming. That report, issued in November, said climate change "is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us."

With files from CBC News