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Snow Disrupts Travel Across U.S.

by Tosin Ajayi

From a “bomb cyclone” in the Northwest to a powerful storm moving over the Great Lakes, a vast area of the United States was paralyzed by severe weather just before Thanksgiving. The two separate storm systems have choked transportation across the center of the nation, bringing 30 inches of snow in some areas and causing closed interstates and hundreds of canceled flights. They were weakening and expected to drop less snow Wednesday and Thursday, but holiday travel issues will likely continue into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. More than 55 million people were expected to fly or drive out of town during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. At least, that’s how many had hoped to. “Plan for plenty of extra time,” said Brian Hurley, a forecaster at the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. Minnesota Is Being Blanketed in Heavy Snow Parts of Minnesota expected up to 11 inches of snow, with a winter storm warning in effect through noon Wednesday and delays piling up at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Thirty-five flights had been canceled as of Wednesday morning and another 60 had been delayed, according to the airport’s website. The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities said there had been “many accidents across central and southern Minnesota” on Tuesday night, advising travelers to “stay off the roads until you must travel.” Wind gusts in parts of Minnesota and central Wisconsin were expected to reach up to 40 mph. The winter storm also arrived as a fire broke out at an apartment building in Minneapolis that killed at least five people and displaced many other residents. The storm that buried much of the Midwest on Tuesday was expected to continue east through the region toward New England by Wednesday night. High wind warnings, with potential wind gusts of up to 50 mph, were in effect from Kansas City to western Ohio. A ‘Bomb Cyclone’ Pummeled the Northwest with Hurricane-Force Winds Heavy snows and whipping winds were expected in the Northwest through Wednesday morning in what the National Weather Service called a “historic, unprecedented” storm, unlike any that had hit the region since the 1960s. It was believed it would qualify as a bomb cyclone, a designation given when barometric pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. Winds reached 106 mph Tuesday near Cape Bianco, Oregon, with sustained winds of 85 mph, exceeding the 74 mph definition of hurricane force. Travelers were encouraged to stay off the roads, with as much as a foot of snow blanketing Northern California and Oregon. The National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, said late Tuesday that “conditions should improve Wednesday afternoon.” Winds began gradually diminishing around midnight, forecasters said. A winter storm warning remains in effect for Southern Sierra Nevada, Lake Isabella, Tehachapi pass and Tejon pass over the Grapevine until early Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Heavy snow is expected in the region with totals in the 1 to 3 feet range, the service said. Wind gusts could hit as high at 50 mph. Travel conditions will be “extremely treacherous or nearly impossible,” the service said. Road closures are likely because of snow cover. Snow Closed Part of a Major Highway i n n orthern California In Northern California, a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 5, between Yreka and Redding, was closed in both directions Wednesday because of the snowfall, according to the state’s transportation department. The department said that a number of cars had spun out along the road and had to be removed. Wednesday could bring rain and thunderstorms to the area, forecasters said. Denver Is Digging Out From Snowfall Denver International Airport returned to normal Wednesday morning after heavy snowfall in the area Monday and Tuesday. “Today will be a busy day at DEN!” the airport said on Twitter, directing travelers to arrive two hours before their flights. The airport received 9.5 inches of snow and saw at least 463 flight cancellations Tuesday. The storm made for Denver’s snowiest November day since 1994, according to the National Weather Service. Colorado saw a wide range of snowfall totals from the storm. The town of Drake, about 30 miles north of Boulder, saw 33 inches of snow, while Bayfield, in the state’s southwest, saw just 1 inch, according to the weather service. Tornados Touch Down in Mississippi a nd Louisiana While parts of the country are battling rain and snow affecting travel Wednesday, tornadoes touched down in Mississippi and Louisiana on Tuesday night, according to Alan Campbell, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi. At least two tornadoes hit the Franklin and Madison parishes of Louisiana and two more hit in Rankin County, Mississippi, Campbell said Wednesday. There were no deaths or injuries reported in any of the areas affected by tornadoes as of late Wednesday morning, according to sheriff departments there. There were reports of downed trees, downed power lines and damaged homes in some areas, he said, but that the worst of the weather might have passed. Campbell said he does not expect to see any more tornado activity as people begin traveling Wednesday. Power Is Out for Many in Missouri and Illinois High winds in Missouri and Illinois led to power failures for about 13,000 people, according to a local news report and a Wednesday morning report by Ameren, an electrical company servicing the area. The National Weather Service in Weldon Spring, Missouri, issued a high wind warning that would remain in effect until 3 p.m. local time. Winds were expected around 30 mph, with gusts of up to 60 mph, threatening to bring down trees and power lines. Parades Are in Danger in the Northeast Showers and thunderstorms were expected from the Southeast to the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday, with heavy snow expected in northern New England and parts of Maine later in the week. Winds of 30 mph or more were expected in Boston and other areas of New England, and rain and snow were likely to increase in the afternoon and evening. High winds could put Thanksgiving parades at risk, including the annual Macy’s parade in New York City. City regulations forbid the famous mega-sized balloons from flying when there are sustained winds above 23 mph or gusts above 34 mph. Hurley said the latest forecast showed that wind gusts in New York City on Thursday could go up to 40 mph, with sustained winds in the 15-25 mph range. This article originally appeared in The New York Times .

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