Image: Ohio residents
Amy Sancetta  /  AP
Pedestrians brave the blowing snow as they cross the main street of Chagrin Falls, Ohio on Sunday.
updated 12/16/2007 9:21:06 PM ET 2007-12-17T02:21:06

A pre-winter storm dumped up to a foot of snow on parts of Michigan, causing crashes that claimed at least two lives and canceling Monday's classes for tens of thousands of children.

At least 150 school districts, including the state's largest in Detroit, announced the cancellation of classes because of the storm.

By late Sunday, AAA Michigan had helped more than 3,000 motorists.

The fatal crashes happened on U.S. 23 in Monroe County and Interstate 94 in Berrien County.

Motorists slid off roads as a wind-blown brew of snow, sleet and freezing rain cut visibility and iced over highways from the Great Lakes to New England.

The National Weather Service posted winter storm warnings for Monday from Michigan and Indiana all the way to Maine. Around a foot of snow had fallen on parts of the Chicago area and Ann Arbor, Mich., with 10 inches in Vermont. Meteorologists said that 18 inches was possible in northern New England and that there was a chance of 14 inches in parts of Michigan.

"Our biggest advice right now is, stay home," said Maine State Police Sgt. Andrew Donovan. Visibility in the blowing snow was less than 200 yards, and in stronger gusts "if there's a car in front of you, you can't even see it," he said.

Every available plow truck was at work in Vermont, said Reggie Brown, highway department dispatcher in Montpelier. "Everybody's out and running," he said.

The Hancock County Sheriff's Office in northwestern Ohio declared roads off limits to non-emergency vehicles, declaring that anyone else traveling through was subject to arrest.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey said 1,000 trucks were out clearing snow there Sunday.

Snow depths in some places were uncertain. "They can't tell how much because it's blowing so hard," Brown said.

"I don't mind an inch or two, but this is too much," said Larry Thelen in Ann Arbor.

Difficult travel conditions
The Hancock County Sheriff's Office in northwestern Ohio declared roads off limits to nonemergency vehicles, threatening anyone else traveling through the county with arrest. Wind gusts as high as 40 mph blew snow around and diminished visibility.

The storm canceled hundreds of flights at airports in Chicago. Many flights were canceled at airports in the Northeast, including in Portland, Maine; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Manchester, N.H. Few major problems were reported at airports in Philadelphia, Boston and New York, although New York's Kennedy and New Jersey's Newark Liberty reported delays.

Many churches called off Sunday services because of the hazardous driving conditions.

"I don't want folks to venture out because we're having church and they feel obligated," the Rev. Glenn Mortimer said after calling off services at Wakefield-Lynnfield United Methodist Church in Wakefield, Mass. He noted that some people still hadn't completely dug out from a storm Thursday that dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of Massachusetts.

The storm didn't keep fans away from the New England Patriots vs. New York Jets game at Foxborough, Mass., but they had to shovel off their seats in the stadium. A video of a fire roaring in a fireplace was shown on the scoreboards at both ends of the field.

At Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., strong winds collapsed a fabric dome used for hospitality events before and after games. No one was inside or hurt when the structure fell Sunday morning.

The storm didn't stand in the way of dedicated Christmas shoppers.

"The reason we came out in the storm early, early, is that we knew there would be no lines," Michael McGrath, 48, of Boston, said as he stomped along partly shoveled downtown sidewalks. "It was true. The stores were empty."

Betty Gould and Rocky Castellano drove about 20 miles from Pittsfield, N.H., to Steeplegate Mall in Concord, N.H. Asked whether she considered staying home, Gould said: "Never."

"We like the snow," Gould said. "He thinks he's invincible. He has four-wheel drive, studded tires, the whole bit."

Deaths in Michigan, Wisconsin
Slippery roads were blamed for two traffic deaths in Michigan and one in Wisconsin.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said the storm at one point blacked out 160,000 customers Sunday, although service had been restored to thousands by Sunday evening. Scattered power failures also were reported in Vermont, state officials said.

The storm came less than a week after an ice storm blamed for at least 38 deaths, mostly in traffic accidents, in the middle of the country. Thousands of homes and businesses still had no electricity in parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.

Only about 14,900 Missouri homes and business remained without power Sunday morning, down from about 165,000 on Tuesday, but it could be the end of the week before power is restored statewide, said Duane Nichols, deputy director of the State Emergency Management Agency.

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