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Storm Snarls Air Travel, Triggers Chaos on Roads

December 28, 1988|Associated Press

CHICAGO — Hundreds of weary travelers who spent the night at O'Hare International Airport waited in long lines for flights Tuesday as the nation's busiest airport struggled to recover from its first major winter storm of the season.

Additional flight delays occurred Tuesday as the area received more snow. Downtown Chicago and O'Hare recorded accumulations of 3 inches of snow after Monday's storm and an additional 2 to 4 inches were expected.

Utah, which was hammered Christmas Day by a storm that dumped up to 2 feet of snow in the northern mountains, was locked in a deep freeze Tuesday, as were Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada. Ice and fog combined to trigger a 50-car rush-hour pileup on Interstate 215 just south of Salt Lake City, and 15 people suffered minor injuries, authorities said.

Snow Peppers Oklahoma

Farther east, snow peppered parts of central and northeastern Oklahoma as a winter storm moved through the state, keeping police busy with minor auto accidents.

Michigan and northern Indiana, which also were struck by the Midwestern storm, had rain and warm temperatures wash away Monday's snow. This made it easier for motorists in Indiana to recover their cars from a series of traffic accidents, including a massive pileup on Interstate 69 that claimed six lives. But more snow--up to 8 inches in some areas--was expected as a new storm moved into the region.

At O'Hare, United Airlines, the airport's biggest customer, had delays of up to 40 minutes because of snow again Tuesday but was running near 100% of its normal schedule by mid-afternoon, United spokesman Charles Novak said. However, the airline had to cancel 165 morning flights because of problems created by the previous day's storm.

The airport was never officially closed Monday, but hundreds of flights were canceled, including about 400 United flights alone. O'Hare is United's hub airport.

"The benches are nice, but they ought to take out the armrests so you can sleep," said a rumpled-looking Roland Stemmer of Mukilteo, Wash., who was among the stranded passengers waiting to get off the ground.

Stemmer said he arrived at O'Hare from Seattle on Monday night, missed his connection to New York and got only 2 1/2 hours of sleep.

"This is my worst experience in 25 years of flying," declared passenger Bill McKay of suburban Chicago. He was among 300 people waiting to fly standby to Denver.

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