• Two major winter storms are set to disrupt the travel plans of millions of Americans on Wednesday 
  • Those living in the western two-thirds of the country have been hit with up to 30 inches of snow fall
  • Snow is falling fast in southern Minnesota, where 12 inches or more is expected during the busy travel period
  • More than a foot of snow is also forecast in parts of Wisconsin on Wednesday, with schools canceling classes 
  • And in Kansas roads are partially or completely snow covered after a storm dumped more than five inches
  • Thousands were also without power in Missouri on Wednesday morning as high winds whip across the state
  • And forecasters say possible tornadoes struck communities in Mississippi and Louisiana overnight
  • A 100-mile stretch of Interstate 5 in northern California was closed in both directions Wednesday
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC is also under threat because 40-50 mph gusts of wind are forecast
  • A total of 491 flights in and out of the Denver airport were canceled and more than 700 flights were delayed
  • The storm set to batter the Northwest through Wednesday has been labeled ‘historic and unprecedented’ 
  • By the weekend, the intense weather is expected to move toward the East Coast, according to forecasters 

Two major winter storms are disrupting the travel plans of millions of Americans headed to Thanksgiving Day destinations on jam-packed highways and airplanes Wednesday.

Those living in the western two-thirds of the country have been hit with up to 30 inches of snow fall in Colorado and a ‘bomb cyclone’ pummeling the Northwest. The deteriorating conditions have forced the closure of interstates and canceled flights – just as 55 million set off for the holidays.

The first storm front was moving across the upper Midwest, where it was forecast to clobber parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota with almost a foot of snow and wind gusts of up to 50 mph, making travel difficult if not impossible, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

It also warned of possible winds of up to 60 mph and rainstorms across a wide swath of the central US from western Texas up through Missouri and into Ohio on Wednesday, as millions hit the roads and board airplanes for the holiday.

A second storm was rapidly intensifying as it pushed toward Oregon and northern California, where damaging winds, coastal flooding and heavy mountain snows of up to four feet were forecast, the NWS said. The front was also expected to dump heavy rain, threatening flash floods across southern California, from San Diego to LA.

More than a foot of snow is forecast in parts of Wisconsin Wednesday. A number of schools have already canceled classes in the state as heavy snow and high winds caused worsening travel conditions.

The NWS called the weather set to batter the Northwest through Wednesday a ‘historic, unprecedented’ storm, with hurricane-force winds.

A 100 mile stretch of Interstate 5 in northern California was closed in both directions Wednesday. Snowfall forced the closure between Yreka and Redding after vehicles spun out along the road.

Motorists navigate an ice and snow-covered road on Wednesday in Mason City, Iowa. A storm pushing across the upper Midwest has been hampering holiday travel on one of the busiest travel days of the year
Motorists navigate an ice and snow-covered road on Wednesday in Mason City, Iowa. A storm pushing across the upper Midwest has been hampering holiday travel on one of the busiest travel days of the year
The map above shows the forecast nationwide from Wednesday morning 7am EST through Thursday morning 7am EST
The map above shows the forecast nationwide from Wednesday morning 7am EST through Thursday morning 7am EST

A winter storm warning from just north of La Crosse to northeast Wisconsin was also in place. In far northern areas of the state, including Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties, snowfall totals could reach as high as 20 inches. Elsewhere, six inches to 10 inches of snow was expected in northwestern Wisconsin.

Snow is also falling fast in southern Minnesota, where 12 inches or more is expected during the busy travel period. A total of 35 flights had been canceled at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as of Wednesday morning with another 60 delayed.

One of the hardest-hit areas on the day before Thanksgiving Day was Minnesota’s Twin Cities region.

And in Kansas roads are partially or completely snow covered after a storm dumped more than five inches.

Thousands are also without power in Missouri as high winds whip across the state. Ameren reported that 17,871 customers were without service Wednesday morning, mostly in the St. Louis area.

Blowing snow is making travel difficult in southern South Dakota where about two dozen school districts have canceled classes.

And in Utah, a state trooper was forced to dive over a barrier to avoid a car after it lost control in icy conditions and slammed into center median. The incredible moment was captured on dashcam just as Trooper Riley Rugg jumped out of the way on Monday.

HOLIDAY FORECAST

Wednesday, November 27: A storm bringing rain is expected to batter most of the East, the Great Lakes will be windy and gusty, the Upper Midwest will be snowy, and precipitation is expected in the West and Southwest.

Thursday, November 28: The West and the Great Plains will be blanketed by either rain or snow on Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 29: The massive storm system stretching from California through the Great Plains will move eastward.

Saturday, November 30: The storm continues to move east, this time dumping rain in the Midwest and Southeast. Parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota are likely to see snowfall.

Strong winds are also whipping up snow and hampering travelers in Nebraska and Iowa. Gusts could approach 60 mph as the storm heads northeast. A gust of 53 mph was reported Wednesday morning in Davenport.

Far western Nebraska is shoveling out nearly a foot of snow, with drifts up to 16 inches deep.

A pedestrian walks along Portland Avenue near downtown Minneapolis, Wednesday. Blinding snow is falling fast there
A pedestrian walks along Portland Avenue near downtown Minneapolis, Wednesday. Blinding snow is falling fast there

At least six people were injured after the vehicles crashed down the icy highway Tuesday, according to the Washington Department of Transportation, which subsequently shut down I-90.

Authorities said the six wounded people had non-life threatening injuries and were treated at a local hospital.

According to the NWS branch in Washington state, a fast hitting snow squall snarled traffic in the area, bringing more than half an inch of snowfall within 25 minutes.

One person was killed, and two others were injured in a multi-vehicle crash in Colorado.

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gary Cutler said a tractor-trailer jackknifed and was hit by two other semi-trucks and a pickup on Interstate 70 near Vail early Tuesday. One of the truck’s fuel tanks burst. A hazardous-materials team was called in to clean up the leaking fuel.

Authorities said roads in the area were warm when the snow started falling, creating icy conditions as the storm strengthened.

According to the Wyoming Department of Transportation, more than 200 miles of Interstate 80 had to be closed due to the heavy snow.

Drivers in Wyoming and Nebraska are dealing with black ice, blowing snow and reduced visibility.

A stretch of Interstate 70 near the state´s western border with Colorado was open again Wednesday after temporarily closing Tuesday at the height of the storm. Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Hileman urged drivers in a tweet to ‘Stay put,’ adding that it ‘doesn´t look like fun!’ Many travelers took the advice, filling hotels in the area.

The National Weather Service says some of the heaviest accumulations were in Goodland, where 7.5 inches fell, and north of the small village of McDonald, where 9.5 inches was on the ground.

LEAVE A REPLY