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Midwest's winter storm packs a wallop, vexing holiday travelers

Big winter storm galloping across the US has been blamed in three road deaths. Conditions are grounding flights in Minneapolis, other cities.

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A passenger makes a phone call while checking on her flight status at Minneapolis St. Paul International airport Thursday, Dec. 24.

Hannah Foslien/AP

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Many holiday travelers are getting socked with a one-two punch, as a blizzard barreling across the Midwest Thursday follows a storm just days earlier that set snowfall records on the East Coast. Thursday's storm, expected to dump as much as 22 inches of snow, has already snarled air traffic and caused people to delay holiday road trips.

While the storm adds to holiday travel frustrations, it will mean a white Christmas for many. By Christmas Day, snow is expected to exceed one foot in parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas.

That, however, not the present everyone wanted this year. In Minneapolis, at least 150 flights have been canceled, causing airline delays across the Midwest. Forecasters say the storm could hang around until Saturday, bringing high winds and blizzard conditions.

The National Weather Service says driving will be treacherous as winds could reach 40 miles per hour in some areas. The storm is expected to create blinding conditions on some roads.

"We're going to see blowing snow," Scott Blair, a National Weather Service meteorologist Kansas, told the Associated Press. "The big concern comes later when we see snowfall with the wind, causing reduced visibility."

The storm has been blamed in at least two deaths in Kansas, according to the Wichita Eagle. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that one motorist died in an accident caused by icy conditions in Minnesota.

South Dakota Gov. Michael Rounds says that if motorists haven't made it to their holiday destinations by now, they should probably stay put. The governor nixed his holiday plans this year, according to the AP, and will be celebrating in Pierre. He called the storm “a good old-fashioned South Dakota blizzard that we haven't seen in years."

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