Great Lakes region faces feet of lake-effect snow as Midwest winter storm winds down

The powerful storm has left thousands of people across the Great Lakes without power which could become problematic as temperatures plunge behind the storm with an arctic blast set to overtake the Midwest.

CHICAGO – A powerful winter storm that impacted the Midwest with blizzard conditions and widespread power outages is in its final stages, but winds off the Great Lakes are poised to become problematic with heavy lake-effect snow.

The FOX Forecast Center warned that significant lake-effect snow bands were possible for Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and parts of New York through the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. 

The warm water temperatures of the Great Lakes and blustery conditions have led to a favorable setup for heavy snow, and impacts are already being felt.

The National Weather Service issued a Snow Squall Warning for parts of Monroe County, Michigan, on Saturday afternoon and cautioned that rapidly falling visibility and gusty winds would make travel treacherous.

A three-hour radar loop showing where showers and thunderstorms are ongoing. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are indicated in yellow. Tornado Warnings are indicated in red, while Tornado Warnings with a confirmed tornado are indicated in purple. Flash Flood Warnings are indicated in green, while Flash Flood Emergencies are indicated in pink.
(FOX Weather)


Farther east in New York, a travel ban was slated to go into effect for Erie County at 9 p.m., and authorities said they'll discuss its status on Sunday.

Gov. Kathey Hochul said the state was expecting to see its worst conditions since the catastrophic blizzard of 2022.

Sunday's NFL game featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills was postponed until at least Monday due to the threat of life-threatening weather conditions.


Thousands of power outages

More than 500,000 electric outages were reported across the country Saturday afternoon by, with the greatest concentrations centered in southeastern Wisconsin and eastern Michigan. 

Here's a look at the current power outage tracker.
(FOX Weather)


FOX 2 in Detroit reported more than 160,000 DTE Energy and Consumers Energy customers were without power Saturday morning. DTE Electric, Michigan's largest utility provider, said it had nearly 1,100 linemen on standby and ready to respond to outages.

"Our crews have been at work since the weather began and are making repairs as quickly and safely as possible," DTE told FOX 2. "Crews from across the country arrived last night to support our DTE crews and speed restoration for customers."

The company did not publicly state how long it would take to restore everyone's electricity, but many will be wishing for a quick response as temperatures are not expected to reach above 20 degrees through most of the upcoming week.

Heavy snow and strong winds were simply too much for some trees and power lines in Waterford, Wisconsin, on Friday, as video showed them on fire amid surrounding snowy conditions. 


Over 5,000 flights delayed or canceled

For many impacted by the storm system, the snowfall was the largest accumulation this season and was detrimental to travelers on roadways and at airports.

Chicago's airports had the most cancellations and delays among the more than two dozen cities impacted by the winter weather. 

O'Hare International Airport (ORD) reported more than 800 flights were canceled as of Friday afternoon due to the winter storm, as the FAA placed a ground stop at the airport. About 70 cancellations were reported Saturday morning, according to 

Chicago's Midway Airport reported nearly 300 cancellations as of early Friday afternoon, according to The site showed about a half-dozen canceled flights Saturday morning.

FOX Weather Meteorologist Amy Freeze, was reporting live from Chicago and heard thunder during some of the snow falling over the Windy City on Friday morning.

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Paul Gardner captured footage of the hazardous conditions on U.S. Route 20 in Calhoun County and urged people to stay home and be safe. 

The state's transportation department was advising people not to travel on most roads east of Des Moines. The Illinois DOT was also reporting that most roads across the northern part of the state were dangerous because of blowing snow. The bulk of roads in Wisconsin were either listed by the state's DOT as slippery in stretches or snow-covered.

Marshalltown, Iowa, located about an hour northeast of Des Moines, was the first location to verify blizzard conditions in the state on Friday. Drifting snow piles combined with the wind created dangerous driving conditions.

Snowfall totals top a foot

The greatest snowfall totals topped over a foot in several states across the Midwest, and outside of major lake-effect snow bands, Wisconsin appeared to take top honors.

The Wisconsin communities of West Bend and Suamico reported seeing 18" of new snowfall by Saturday afternoon.

Another concentration of heavy snow totals appeared to be the Quad Cities, along the Iowa-Illinois border.

At last report, Davenport saw just over 15 inches of snow, with many readings above a foot in eastern Iowa.

Major cities along the Great Lakes appeared to have missed seeing substantial accumulations.

Observation sites around downtown Chicago only reported about 2 inches of precipitation, while Milwaukee saw around 5 inches of new powder.

Temperatures plunge after the storm

As if the snow won’t make conditions dangerous enough, millions of Americans are bracing for a bitter blast of frigid air that moves in from Canada.

"And this is the storm that really unlocks the arctic cold that comes in behind it," FOX Weather Meteorologist Jane Minar said. "So, get ready for this flash freeze that’s going to happen in the weekend." 

The combination of the winds and cold weather is expected to make the temperatures feel as cold as 50 degrees below zero in some spots throughout the Plains. The life-threatening wind chills could result in frostbite in just minutes, and local National Weather Service offices warned everyone who faced the potential of dangerous conditions to stay indoors.

"If you must be outside, make sure you wear appropriate clothing in layers. Ensure portable heaters are used correctly and that you have a carbon monoxide detector. Do not use generators or grills inside. If traveling, carry a winter survival kit and inform others of your travel plans," the NWS office in Bismark, North Dakota, said.


A look at forecast low temperatures on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.
(FOX Weather)