So far, Winter Storm Mateo has already brought in up to seven inches of snow in Chicago, up to six inches in Milwaukee, up to four inches in Detroit, and up to 13 inches in areas like Havre, Montana, according to the Weather Channel's latest forecast.
In Michigan, more than 50 vehicles, including auto and semi-trailer trucks, were involved in a pileup on icy I-94 east of Kalamazoo, according to local media.
"The Friday morning rush is gonna be trouble", National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Mott had told the Chicago Tribune.
Counties in IL that will be affected by the Winter Storm Watch are Lake, DuPage, Cook, Will, Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, Kane, LaSalle, Kendall as well as Grundy county, along with Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.
Schools were closed in both cities and multiple vehicle crashes were reported on icy roads.
Almost 1,000 flights were delayed and another 1,500 canceled at Detroit and Chicago airports.
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The National Weather Service issued winter-weather warnings and advisories across the upper Midwest. As of 9:30 a.m., more than 740 flights have been cancelled on Friday at O'Hare, and more than 280 have been cancelled on Friday at Midway.
In Detroit, weather forecasters warned that snow could fall at a rate of more than one inch (2.5 cm) an hour as it heads east. Some of the highest totals are forecast in the Chicago area, northern in and southern MI. People should stay off the roads if possible, but if they drive they should expect delays and hazardous conditions.
The expectation of up to 12 inches around Chicago prompted officials to close the city's public schools to about 390,000 students on Friday.
Weather service meteorologist Trent Frey says the forecast is for up to nine inches of snow in Detroit through late Friday. Schools across Nebraska and Iowa also closed or delayed the start of classes.