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Thousands of flights disrupted across US as storm hits Northeast

The large storm system that created dangerous road conditions and white-outs in the Midwest is moving out of the Northeast. Cold air is on the way, however, bringing lake-effect snow across southwestern New York. Weather Channel meteorologist Chris Warren reports.


Updated 11:45 p.m ET: Holiday travelers across the country were feeling the effects of the first big storm of the season, with hundreds of flights canceled and thousands delayed Friday — many disrupted by the ripple effects of stormy conditions in the Northeast and Midwest.

The winter storm was moving across the Buffalo, N.Y. region on Friday night, with gusty winds, snow, blowing and drifting snow slowing traffic. The storm was expected to travel across northern Pennsylvania by Saturday afternoon, NBC affiliate WGRZ reported

Across the country, nearly 700 flights had been canceled and 9,300 delayed by late Friday afternoon, according to FlightStats.com. The majority were in storm-impacted cities like Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, New York and Philadelphia.

Delays of an hour or more were reported at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and La Guardia Airport in New York.

The combination of low clouds, rain and hing wind gusts disrupted major Northeast airports. Those delays could continue into Saturday, when the tail end of the system is expected to leave a few more inches of snow in Pittsburgh and western New York.

Full storm coverage at Weather.com

At Chicago's O'Hare airport, travelers who spent Thursday night there included Patricia Oliver, who called her attempt to get from California to Waterloo, Iowa, "a nightmare." 

"They keep pushing us and bumping us and booting us back," she told NBCChicago.com. "We slept two nights on the floor."

Airlines on Thursday canceled more than 1,000 flights as the storm dumped up to 20 inches of snow across parts of the Midwest, caused blizzard conditions that led to seven deaths and even spawned a twister in Mobile, Ala., that damaged property.

Much of the Midwest is digging out after the first major snowstorm of the season dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas. Meanwhile, cancellations and delays are causing problems for travelers heading home for the holiday. NBC's John Yang reports.

In Iowa, two people were killed and seven injured Thursday in a 30-vehicle pileup on Interstate 35. Drivers were blinded by blowing snow and didn't see vehicles that had slowed or stopped, causing a chain reaction of crashes, state police said.

The storm was blamed for traffic deaths in three other states: two deaths each in Nebraska and Wisconsin; and one in Kansas.

In Utah, a woman who tried to walk for help after her car became stuck in snow died Tuesday night. 

Power outages caused by the storm continued Friday. More than 320,000 homes and businesses were without power in the eastern half of the U.S. The hardest hit states were Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin.

Outages that started Thursday also remained in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska and Texas.

Although the storm has become largely a wind and rain event for much of the Northeast, the snow belts around the Great Lakes and Appalachians on Friday are likely to continue to see wind-whipped snow that could top a foot in many areas, Weather.com reported.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

AAA predicts 93 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more this holiday weekend, and as a massive winter storm rolls across the mid-section of the country, travelers are concerned about delays that may affect the weekend. NBC's Tom Costello reports.

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