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A bit late, winter grips Midwest and Northeast

Snowplow drivers were out in force overnight in Chicago, where temperatures plummeted. The storm could drop up to a foot of snow on parts of Ohio along Lake Erie before moving east.

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Pedestrians make their way in the snow by Firefighter's Memorial Park in Syracuse, N.Y. Five to eight inches of snow were expected to fall from this storm in the Syracuse area.

David Lassman/The Syracuse Newspapers/AP

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Many Americans' first real taste of winter this season blew through the Midwest and Northeast on Friday, leaving ski resort operators giddy, delaying commuters and air passengers, and forcing pedestrians along the East Coast to button up against biting winds.

The storm blanketed the Upper Midwest before slowly swirling to points east. Snowplow drivers were out in force overnight in Chicago, where temperatures plummeted. It could drop as much of a foot of snow on parts of Ohio along Lake Erie before plodding on.

In a typical year, such a storm would hardly register in the region. But atmospheric patterns, including the Pacific phenomenon known as La Nina, have conspired to make this an unusually icy winter in Alaska and have kept it abnormally warm in parts of the lower 48 states accustomed to more snow.

In Buffalo, worse than the accumulation of 5 inches – moderate by regional standards – were 25- to 35-mph winds that blew the snow in blinding sheets.

"We go from no snow to a blizzard," said Courtney Taylor of Lewiston, north of Buffalo, holding on to keep her fur-lined hood up.

For Steve Longo, a 47-year-old chiropractor from Wauwatosa, Wis., the wait to try out the cross-country skis he got for Christmas was excruciating. He and a friend wasted no time hitting the trails at Lapham Peak, about 25 miles west of Milwaukee.

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