Nightly News   |  February 03, 2011

Midwest shovels way out of winter storm

Much of the Midwest remained in recovery mode on Wednesday as airlines scrambled to resume services after a historic storm shut out more than 16,000 flights. NBC's Kevin Tibbles reports.

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>>> back in the u.s. we go. in the wake of one of the biggest blizzards the country has seen, an arctic air mass has braupt record cold temperares as far south as arizona, north through the middle of the country where minus signs and single digits are just about everywhere. air traffic picking back up slowly after a standstill. about 16,000 flights have been cancelled this week. 2,000 of those today alone. leaving the stranded passengers coast to coast . our own kevin tibbles is back out in it again tonight on frozen michigan avenue in chicago . kevin , good evening once again.

>> reporter: well, brian , first the big whiteout, now the big digout. and temperatures are getting dangerously cold. today chicago came back to life one scoop at a time.

>> in the future i'm going to be looking for indoor parking.

>> reporter: traffic is moving again on lakeshore drive , where just yesterday hundreds of cars were entombed in snow. send complaints my way, says the mayor.

>> sure you can complain to me.

>> is that fair?

>> that's life.

>> reporter: at o'hare airport today, another thousand flights canceled as airlines scramble to get back to normal.

>> hopefully i'll be back home tonight . it's not worth traveling if you know there's a storm where you're headed.

>> reporter: more than 16,000 cancellations nationwide so far this week.

>> it's what happens when you have a massive storm, a historic massive storm. i think they all did a great job.

>> reporter: some at denver's bus station have been stuck three days.

>> it feels like a century.

>> reporter: those with young children forced to improvise.

>> you've just got to do whatever you can do to make it work and stuff.

>> reporter: in tucson, a century-old record fell when the mercury plummeted to 18 degrees. this morning two people drowned when a truck plunged off an icy bridge into the oklahoma river . at least 12 people have lost their lives in weather-related accidents since the blizzard struck. the next concern, frigid, arctic air.

>> it is not over yet. it will stay below zero for areas east of the rockies.

>> reporter: the sheer weight of the snow has caused numerous buildings to collapse, sending owners to the roof with snow blowers and shovels. for chicago kids, though, today was another snow day , and for them snow is for playing in. and, brian , those kids better enjoy their freedom while they can. it is back to school tomorrow. brian .

>> right what we're flying into. kevin tibbles in chicago , thanks.