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UPDATE 1-Snowstorm hammers U.S. Midwest, hundreds of flights canceled

(Updates flight cancellations, adds resident's comment)

By Brendan O'Brien and Suzannah Gonzales

MILWAUKEE/CHICAGO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - A major winter storm
pounding the U.S. Midwest on Friday forced cancellation of
hundreds of flights as heavy snow and plummeting temperatures
threatened to bring travel to a standstill across the region.

The storm system stretching from western Montana to southern
Michigan could drop up to 14 inches (36 cm) of snow in some
areas, the National Weather Service said. The heavy snow is
forecast to move into upstate New York and New England by early
Saturday.

Chicago was anticipating 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) of
snow early on Friday with more expected over the weekend,
according to the service's forecast.

Ice and snow covered Chicago's expressways, where there were
at least 25 crashes overnight, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Most state courthouses in Cook County, which encompasses
Chicago, were closed for the day.

Andrew Busch, a political economist who lives in the Chicago
area, marveled at his neighbors' famed winter hardiness.

"Foot of snow, 25F, and just saw commuter in short sleeves
holding coat drinking ice coffee," he wrote on Twitter. "Yep,
this is Chicago!"

City officials announced school closures in Chicago, Detroit
and Milwaukee because of the weather.

About 1,050 U.S. flights were canceled, with about one in
five flights into or out of Chicago and Detroit airports called
off, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks airline traffic.

United Airlines said on Twitter that waivers were in
effect for snow-hit areas this week, allowing travelers to
change flights without charges. Delta Air Lines offered
to re-book flights on Friday for 18 Midwest cities.

Wind chill temperatures were expected to drop below 0
Fahrenheit (-18 C) in many areas across the region, and
officials warned of limited visibility on roads. The central and
northern Rockies also will see heavy snow, the weather service
said.

Winter weather this week killed several people in accidents
in the Midwest, including six in Iowa, two in Missouri and one
in Montana, local media in those states reported.
(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and Jonathan
Allen in New York; Editing by Peter Graff and Phil Berlowitz)

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