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Midwest Snowstorm

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Midwest Snowstorm, A winter storm that is already walloping the Plains states will hit the Chicago area tonight and linger through the morning commute on Friday, possibly dumping up to half a foot of snow here.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for the Chicago area from 9 p.m. Thursday until 6 p.m. Friday, with snow falling at a rate of an inch per hour overnight and winds blowing at 25 to 30 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

The snow will change over to freezing drizzle Friday morning, the weather service said.

Anywhere from 3 to 7 inches could fall here, but up to 16 inches are expected in Kansas and Nebraska, states expected to bear the brunt of the storm. Warnings have been issued from Colorado through Illinois, and many school districts have called off classes.

The storm could be the worst to hit the Midwest since a storm dumped 1 to 2 feet of snow from central Oklahoma to the lower Great Lakes and central New England between Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 2011. The storm spawned the infamous Groundhog Day Blizzard that buried Chicago in 20.2 inches of snow.

The storm moving over the Plains now was first picked up by computer models as it left the Japanese coast more than a week ago. Forecasts at the time suggested a potentially significant winter storm would develop from it across the nation’s mid-section.

Up to a foot and a half of heavy snow is expected over portions of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska.

Nearly a foot or more of snow fell across key areas in Oklahoma and Kansas in the last 24 hours, and more was coming.

Ten inches of snow were reported at the Wichita, Kansas, airport by 6 a.m. CST today, according to the Accuweather forecasting group. Roughly a foot was accumulating in the Kansas City area, leading city and state officials to declare a state of emergency.

Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures fell more than 2 percent to their lowest level in nearly eight months this morning due to beneficial nature of the storms for the wheat crop in the U.S. Plains.

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