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Snow blankets Chicago as winter storm sweeps U.S. Midwest

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By Suzannah Gonzales

CHICAGO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - A winter storm swept across the northern U.S. Midwest on Friday, dumping up to nine inches (23 cm) of snow on Chicago and snarling hundreds of flights as it rolled east to threaten New York state and New England.

Chicago's metropolitan area was blanketed with its heaviest snowfall since at least late 2016 as the storm put an icy grip on much of Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Michigan.

The snow caused dozens of crashes on icy Chicago expressways as residents of the third-biggest U.S. city struggled to get to work and to dig out from a storm system that had stretched from Montana to Michigan.

“I hate you, Chicago!” Ieva Urbietyte, a 25-year-old customer service representative, said she thought while cleaning snow off her car in the Windy City. “Thankfully we don’t have to do this all the time.”

Weather forecasters in Detroit warned that snowfall there could surpass one inch (2.5 cm) an hour as the system headed east.

At the Argus Farm Stop in nearby Ann Arbor, Michigan, several customers arrived on skis, and store manager Laura Barch said she was eager to get into her snowshoes.

“I feel like this is going to be the one day out of the year” to use them, said Barch. "This is the first real winter we’ve had in several years.”

Wind chill temperatures were expected to drop below 0 Fahrenheit (-18 C) in many areas across the upper Midwest. The central and northern Rockies also will see heavy snow, the National Weather Service said.

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

National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Hurley said on Friday that the system was likely to drop another four or five inches (10 or 12.5 cm) of snow on the Midwest by the evening as it headed east toward New England.

The storm could dump up to a foot (30 cm) of snow in New York state as it picks up moisture off the Great Lakes, he added.

About 1,500 U.S. flights were canceled, with about a third of flights into or out of Chicago and Detroit airports called off, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks airline traffic.

Winter weather this week killed 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, Letitia Stein in Ann Arbor, and Frank McGurty and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Cynthia Osterman)