Winter Storm Takes Toll On Midwest

Monday, February 26th 2007, 6:30 am

By: News On 6

BALTIMORE (AP) _ The storm that pounded the Midwest brought powdery snow and slush to the Northeast on Monday, making the morning commute messy but relieving people who had feared a repeat of the Valentine's Day ice storm.

``This is a regular snow,'' said Bernard Hughes, a highway foreman in New York's suburban Rockland County. ``A nice white fluffy snow and it's easier to handle.''

The New York City area and Connecticut got up to 4 inches of snow, a fraction of what fell in the Midwest during the weekend but enough to close schools.

JetBlue, the airline whose reputation was severely battered by the more than 1,000 canceled flights in the wake of the Valentine's Day storm, canceled at least 68 flights Monday.

``It was so bad,'' said 22-year-old Duke University student Segun Akande, whose flight from New York to Raleigh, N.C., was canceled after being delayed on a taxiway for hours Sunday. ``We were waiting on the plane for so long. You would think they would tell us to go back to the terminal after an hour or two.''

JetBlue canceled flights into and out of Chicago and the Washington area during the weekend, plus 68 flights Monday at New York's Kennedy Airport. Monday's cancellations affected flights to or from Columbus, Ohio; Richmond, Va.; Washington; Portland, Maine; and Chicago.

During the Valentine's Day storm, JetBlue was heavily criticized because passengers were stranded on planes at Kennedy Airport for up to 10 1/2 hours. That storm affected more than 100,000 passengers and led to the airline's bill of rights for passengers.

Airlines canceled about 100 flights Monday at the Newark airport, said Marc La Vorgna, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Baltimore-Washington area's three major airports were open but some airline schedules were disrupted.

About 100 flights were canceled Monday at Chicago's O'Hare International, and city Aviation Department spokeswoman Wendy Abrams said about 1,000 stranded passengers spent Sunday night at the airport.

John Gallagher of Westport, Conn., said his flight from Jackson Hole, Wyo., to New York City on Sunday was canceled during a stopover in Chicago. He couldn't get another flight out of O'Hare until Tuesday afternoon.

``The worst part was that they canceled the flight Sunday even before a snowflake fell in New York,'' Gallagher said.

The Midwest took the brunt of the storm, with more than 2 feet of snow in southeastern Minnesota. Winter storm warnings remained in effect Monday for northern sections of Wisconsin and Michigan, and the National Weather Service said an additional foot of snow was possible in northern Michigan.

Heavy ice brought down miles of power lines and utility poles, mostly in Iowa, blacking out hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

Iowa still had problems Monday, with many schools closed because of blackouts and roads still being cleared of snow. One of the state's major utilities, Alliant Energy, reported 75,000 customers still without power Monday morning, down from 120,000 Saturday night.

Close to 22,000 customers were still without power Monday in Illinois.

Nine traffic deaths were blamed on the huge storm system: eight in Wisconsin and one in Kansas. Major highways in parts of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska were blocked for much of the weekend, and tornadoes destroyed homes in the South.

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