TODAY   |  February 02, 2011

Monster storm cripples Midwest

Public schools and airports in the Windy City remain closed while residents dig out from the latest winter blast. TODAY’s Al Roker reports from Chicago, Ill.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> mess from chicago to boston. just about everywhere in between. as the massive and dangerous winter storm batters one-third of the country.

>> this one is living up to its billing, one of the worst in years. in the northeast the big concern is sleet and freezing rain that's covered the roads. it could snap trees and power lines . take a look at chicago where blizzard warnings are in effect. they have received more than a foot and a half of snow. city schools are closed today for the first time in 12 years. chicago , just one of the cities hit hard by the storm . boston is another. we begin in chicago where al roker is. good morning again, al.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. here in chicago they set a new record for snowfall in a single day. 13.6 inches at o'hare airport. look at some of the snowfall totals around the northeast. you can see this has been a big, big storm . we are talking about snowfall totals anywhere from seven inches to 18 to 20 inches of snow. of course the snow continues to fall. here in chicago we are now at 17.1 inches of snow. fifth greatest total for chicago so far. as you mentioned, the public schools are closed. both airports are crippled. 4,600 flights cancelled today. chicago already has had the worst as this storm is barrelling across the country into the northeast. this monster winter storm took aim at chicago tuesday night. the win-whipped snow literally blowing people around. check out these brave souls just flooigt fighting to stay on their feet in the blizzard. see what happened to my pals from the weather channel on live tv .

>> oh, jesus! listen to that.

>> a burst of thunder snow here in chicago .

>> that's unbelievable.

>> reporter: lake michigan may look frozen but there is concern that high winds could cause waves as high as 25 feet to crash onto the iconic stretch of road. the powerful storm has already roared across the plains states with whiteout conditions, sheets of ice, and dangerous roads. the monster storm reaches more than 2,000 miles long, from texas across the nation's mid section into the northeast. the numbers are staggering. more than 100 million people will feel the effects of the storm . more than two feet of snow has fallen in some areas. wind chills as low as negative 20 degrees and winds gusting as high as 70 miles per hour. air travel has already been crippled. more than 6,000 flights cancelled across the country yesterday and that ripple effect could last for days. in dallas, a tent for a presuper bowl party collapsed under the weight of snow and ice. good thing the big game this weekend will be played indoors. the storm has been a record-breaker already and is now taking aim on the northeast. i don't care what the groundhog says. it looks like our winter woes are not over yet. seven major storms since the middle of december and we are still counting. lakeshore drive is closed this hour because of abandoned cars. let's look at where the storm is, what it's doing working into the northeast and new england. freezing rain , sleet, rain and snow stretching from chicago all the way to new england. we look for another two to three inches of snow in chicago accumulation-wise. in upstate new york , some areas may pick up up to ten more inches of snow. we've got ice to contend with anywhere from a quarter of an inch to a half an inch of ice. that's when you start to see tree limbs come down and those tree limbs could take down power lines . meredith?

>> al, thank you so much.