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Ontario braces for ice storm after it freezes the U.S. Midwest

A woman walks along Queen Street while wet snow and rain falls in Toronto on Jan. 27, 2012.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

A storm encased the U.S. Midwest in glistening ice on Sunday, forcing officials to cancel flights and closing roadways and threatening to tangle the start of the work week as freezing rains headed east.

Hundreds of churches across Iowa called off Sunday services as sidewalks were turned to sheets of ice by the storm that meteorologists said had covered the Midwest in about 13 millimetres of ice by midday.

Flights in and out of Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Louis were grounded on icy runways.

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The National Weather Service issued a freezing rain advisory for Chicago and the surrounding area for Sunday until 9 p.m. CST, when temperatures were expected to warm up enough to make it just rain. Until then, the NWS warned of dangerous conditions for driving and even walking.

Environment Canada has also issued a freezing rain warning for southern Ontario.

"...Snow will begin this evening then change to freezing rain after midnight and to rain before dawn," reads the statement.

As of 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, the Canadian warning was in effect for the entire tip of the province, spanning from Windsor to just east of the City of Toronto.

"Pockets of sleet, freezing rain and freezing drizzle are possible farther east late tonight into Monday morning from Buffalo, New York, to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Roanoke, Virginia," meteorologist Brian Edwards said on Accuweather.com.

Slick roadways were reported from South Sioux City, Nebraska, to Iowa, where numerous crashes were reported, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation. In Franklin County, Iowa, Interstate 35 was blocked by tractor trailers struggling to get a grip on treacherous surfaces.

"Instant icing of windshields and roadway surfaces (as well as driveways, sidewalks and parking lots) can be expected in the areas with freezing temperatures," the Iowa DOT said.

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In Missouri, ramps to connecting Interstate 270, which circles the St. Louis area, to Interstate 70 were closed early Sunday morning because of ice, but were later reopened, said Marie Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

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