Bitter cold set to follow New Year's Day snow in Chicago
Snow throughout the Chicago area led to hundreds of flights being canceled at O'Hare and Midway airports Saturday, and with an icy chill in the forecast Sunday, weather authorities are encouraging people to avoid car trips.
Chicago's two airports led the country in canceled flights Saturday, according to flightaware.com.
"Thirty minutes, I can handle that, as long as I'm not spending the night here I'm good," said Sylvia Robinson, who's visiting from Houston.
On top of the delays and cancellations, the surge of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks is also worrying some passengers, many of them realizing these airports are returning to pre-pandemic levels.
"That's hard, I'm not used to it," said Robinson. "Last year I was traveling and there was no one here, which was kind of eerie, so I like to see the people, but this is a lot of people."
Saturday's disruptions weren't just due to the virus, however. Wintry weather made Chicago -- where forecasts called for 9 inches of snow -- the worst place in the country for travelers. More than 800 flights were scrubbed at O'Hare and more than 250 at Midway.
By Saturday evening, O'Hare had received 1.7 inches of snow and Midway recorded 2.1 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Chicago.
Southwest Airlines suspended operations at both Chicago airports because of the forecast, according to an airline spokeswoman. She said Southwest knows from years of operating at Midway that high winds and blowing snow make it hard to get planes back in the air quickly.
Bitterly cold air is set to arrive Sunday and steadily get colder through Monday, according to the weather service.
Overnight low temperatures Sunday night are expected to drop below zero in many places, which will create subzero wind chills across the area starting Sunday night.
Some lake effect snow could fall on Sunday, forecasters predict.
Weather officials encouraged residents to avoid unnecessary travel due to bitter cold and hazardous driving conditions.
Looking ahead, forecasters expect a fairly dry but chilly week for the Chicago area with high temperatures likely not to get warmer than the 30s.
ABC 7 and The Associated Press contributed to this report.