The Midwest is getting hammered by a powerful winter storm, causing travel nightmares as hundreds of flights are canceled again today. In fact, just because weather is beautiful at Gallatin Field today, you may also feel the travel effects of the storm in the East.

CHICAGO — Snow continued to fall in Chicago Wednesday morning as the area struggled to recover from a crippling blizzard that shut down roads and train service and left hundreds of motorists stranded.

At an early morning briefing, city officials urged residents to stay home as plows try to clear roads of giant drifts created by snowfall totals exceeding a foot and winds that gusted overnight to 50 mph. The city shut down Lake Shore Drive for the first time in years as an untold number of motorists were stranded overnight after multiple car accidents on the iconic roadway.

O'Hare International Airport reported 17 inches of snow early Wednesday; Midway International Airport had 18 inches. The National Weather Service says 2 to 5 additional inches of snow will fall before the storm moves away and winds of 20 to 30 mph will continue through much of the day.

Airlines "pre-emptively" canceled more than 1,800 Wednesday flights at O'Hare and 200 flights were canceled at Midway, the Chicago Department of Aviation said. Chicago public schools are closed for the first time in 12 years and almost 80,000 ComEd customers in northern Illinois are without power.

Security guard Ed Ransom, 36, stopped for coffee after a long bus ride to work Wednesday morning. He was eager to get to work because power was out at his South Side home.

"What a mess," he said. "They warned us we would be getting a big one, and they sure were right."

The monstrous storm billed as the worst in decades barreled across the country from Texas to Maine, bringing a huge swath of the country to a halt, depositing dangerous amounts of ice and snow before hitting the winter-weary Northeast.

Missouri received as much snow as 1 1/2 feet, more than a foot dropped on northern Indiana and Oklahoma has up to a foot. In the Northeast, spots in northern New York had already gotten more than a foot of snow.

Forecasters Wednesday warned that ice accumulations could knock down some tree limbs and power lines and affect transit service, even as plow drivers struggled to keep up with the snow on many roads.

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