At least four weather-related deaths were reported on Sunday [AFP]

A powerful winter storm has roared across the upper Midwest with high winds and mounds of snow closing roads in several states and canceling more than 1,400 flights in Chicago.

At least four weather-related deaths were reported on Sunday as the storm system that dumped nearly 60 centimeters of snow in parts of Minnesota moved east.

Blizzard warnings were issued for parts of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin as snow socked the states in tandem with wind gusts topping 72km per hour.

Roads in much of Wisconsin and Iowa have been closed, and Temperatures were predicted to nosedive with wind chill readings well below zero (minus 18 degrees Celsius).

Record snowfall

The storm took its greatest toll in Minnesota, where as much as 61 centimeters of snow had fallen in some locations, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The state's largest city Minneapolis was hit by the worst snowfall in more than 19 years and the fifth-biggest on record.

As an indicator of the storm's severity, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport - a transit hub with expertise in contending with foul weather - was shut down for the first time in years.

Snow also damaged the Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings American football team, and led to the indefinite postponement of their game against the New York Giants.

The stadium's inflatable roof sagged like a collapsed souffle when the snow's weight damaged some of the covering's teflon panels.

The storm was causing temperatures to plunge as far south as Atlanta and the system was expected to bring further heavy rain or snow across the entire East Coast, from the northeast state of Maine clear down to southern Florida.

Source: Agencies