Snowstorm heads east after delaying travel and ‘deflating’ Metrodome

(CNN) — A raging winter storm that dumped an onslaught of snow in parts of the Midwest over the weekend barrelled eastward Monday, bringing brutal wind chills and the possibility of even more snow.

In Cleveland, residents could see 5 to 9 inches of snowfall on Monday. By the end of this week, it could be covered in a few feet of snow, CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras said.

In Minneapolis, workers will continue trying to repair the massive Metrodome, which “deflated” under the weight of snow.

And airlines and passengers will continue to grapple with cancellations and delays as stranded travelers across the country become reluctant residents of airport terminals.

Flurries fell as far south as Atlanta, where crowds of passengers found themselves stranded at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Bruce Lish said he was “puzzled” to learn that his flight from Houston to Atlanta was delayed due to weather because despite seeing snow, he didn’t see much accumulation on the ground.

“Any kind of snow has a bearing on this part of the country — they’re not used to snow at all,” Lish, a resident of Rochester, New York, said early Monday. “We’re prepared for that kind of weather because that’s five months out of the year, potentially.”

 

Lish, who might wait more than a day before getting on a flight back to Rochester on Monday night, said tensions ran high at the Atlanta airport as travelers struggled to get hotel reservations.There were a lot of people who missed flights and quite a bit of frustration,” he said. “I couldn’t stay in the airport for 24 hours. I opted to get out.”

The storm is expected to impact eastern United States through the middle of the week, Jeras said. But northeastern parts of the United States will likely get rain and possibly snow showers on Monday while the heavy snow moves toward Canada.

In addition to the storm’s cold precipitation, wind chills could drop to 18 below zero in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and 15 below zero in Minneapolis, Jeras said.

CNN iReporter Jack Paar of St. Paul, Minnesota, said this was the worst blizzard he has seen in the six years he has lived there. He captured footage of a person cross-country skiing down a street.

“That’s the best way to get around — cross-country skis,” Paar said amid cars immobilized by snow.

In Wisconsin, residents braced for wicked wind chills Sunday night.

“We could see wind chills (that are) obviously extremely dangerous for people to have that kind of exposure for any length of time,” said Tod Pritchard, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Emergency Management agency.

Various airlines had canceled more than 1,700 flights by late Sunday night. At least 1,375 flights in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare airport were canceled, the city’s aviation department reported Sunday, with delays for travelers heading to and from the Windy City averaging around just over 6 hours.

And delays hindered air travel in Atlanta, Boston and Newark, New Jersey, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Those were just a few of the many airports where high winds, low visibility and heavy snow crippled traffic for a second straight day.

The pounding snow caused the roof of the 64,000-seat Metrodome in Minneapolis to “deflate” Sunday morning, Minnesota State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said.

Workers wielding shovels could be seen clearing the roof of the heavy white stuff, while photos from inside the darkened stadium showed much of the field covered with snow that fell from a gaping hole in the dome.

Roy Terwilliger, chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission — the group that oversees the Metrodome — said that the heavy snow and cold, high winds “was too much pressure on the dome, and several panels on the Teflon roof were caused to rip.”

By late Sunday night, sheets of ice, many large ice chunks and snow remained frozen on the field.

Steve Maki, facilities director at the facilities commission, said this was the fourth collapse of the Metrodome due to snow.

“It looks worse than what it is, in some respects, because the repair, as I understand it, will be basically to unclamp the old fabric and clamp new fabric in its place and then blow the roof back up,” Maki said Sunday night.

Sunday’s game between the hometown Minneapolis Vikings and New York Giants has been pushed to Monday at 7:20 p.m. ET and moved to Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the NFL said in a statement Sunday.

All those with tickets to the originally scheduled game would get preferred seating near the 50-yard line and free tickets would be distributed, the league said.

The reach of the storm system continues to expand. Hard freeze warnings, for instance, extended as far south as Florida, with the weather service forecasting 13-degree wind chills on Monday night in Tallahassee.

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