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Following unseasonably warm weather, many jobs grind to halt in cold snap

While snow falls in Madison, bikers on Friday cross Park Street where it meets University Ave. (Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

While snow falls in Madison, bikers on Friday cross Park Street where it meets University Avenue. (Steve Apps/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Many construction jobs ground to a halt in Wisconsin, a plane carrying 129 people skidded Saturday from a slick Chicago runway and a plow driver was killed when his truck rolled over outside Kansas City following a winter storm that covered many parts of the Midwest with snow and ice.

Jim Hoffman, president of the Black River Falls company Hoffman Construction, said his company and other road builders had caught a bit of a break with the unseasonably warm weather seen in December and early January. That came to an end last week when temperatures dropped below freezing, ushering in the snowstorms that hit much of Wisconsin over the weekend and are expected to resume on Tuesday.

“Up until last week, we were doing pretty good,” said Hoffman, whose company’s projects include work to expand Interstate 94 near the site where Foxconn Technology Group is building a massive factory complex in Mount Pleasant. “But we are closed up and buttoned up right now. We are on hold like a normal winter.”

In the Midwest, Wisconsin was just one of many states contending with heavy snowfall. Across the state border to the south, no injuries were reported after a United Airlines airplane skidded upon arriving at O’Hare International Airport on Saturday, Chicago Fire officials said. The massive storm that hit the Midwest that day dumped 10 inches of snow in some places. Nearly 1,000 flights were delayed at Chicago airports. At O’Hare, flights were pushed back by an hour on average on Saturday afternoon.

In Kansas, Stephen Winder, a 25-year-old snowplow driver for the state’s Department of Transportation, died about 6 a.m. on Saturday on U.S. Highway 69, according to the Wichita Eagle. A police crash report said his truck “traveled to the right, traversing the shoulder and drove into the grass” before it rolled over. Windler was thrown from the vehicle, which then landed on top of him.

In Missouri, a 15-vehicle crash blocked part of Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri near the city of Ste. Genevieve, south of St. Louis. Drivers were being urged to find an alternative route. The following day, Amtrak had canceled some trips going from Chicago to Washington and New York and between New York and Boston and Pennsylvania.

In Nebraska, authorities closed Omaha’s Eppley Airfield on Friday afternoon after a Southwest Airlines plane slid off an ice-slicked runway. No one was injured. The airfield later reopened.

The snow was part of a wall of hazardous weather that was moving from the Dakotas across the Great Lakes states. The storm brought snow, ice and strong winds, followed by deep cold. The highest snowfall totals were expected in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, which could see up to 18 inches.

Some Midwesterners weren’t going to let a little winter weather keep them from going outside.

In downtown Detroit, Celeste Tremmel was out training for a marathon amid heavy and steady snowfall.

“When you run a marathon, you run no matter the weather,” said Tremmel.

Running in snow is “like running in sand, so you go a lot slower and it’s a lot more work,” she said. “I’m really tired … but 40 degrees, wind and hail is worse.”

–          The Associated Press contributed to this story.

About Dan Shaw, dan.shaw@dailyreporter.com

Dan Shaw is the associate editor at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at dan.shaw@dailyreporter.com or at 414-225-1807.

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