CHICAGO — A winter storm blanketed much of the central Midwest with snow Sunday at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, bringing blizzard-like conditions that grounded hundreds of flights and forced the closure of major highways on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

“It’s going to be messy,” said Todd Kluber, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service who is based in suburban Chicago.

With much of the central plains and Great Lakes region under blizzard or winter storm warnings, more than 1,000 flights headed to or from the U.S. had been canceled as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.

Most were supposed to be routed through Chicago or Kansas City – areas forecast to be hit hard by the storm.

Strong winds and snow created blizzard conditions across much of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. The weather service was warning those conditions would make travel difficult in places.

By midday, the blizzard warning was extended to parts of eastern Illinois near Chicago, where snow was forecast to fall at a rate of about 2 inches per hour.

Other parts of the central plains and Great Lakes region were under a winter storm warning.

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