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Major winter storm hits United States with heavy snow and freezing rain


A major winter storm has intensified as it shifted across the Plains and into the Upper Midwest this weekend, and is likely to continue disrupting holiday travel through New Year's Day. The storm has brought a mix of snow, rain, and ice to the Twin Cities and several Midwest hubs, and is now headed for the Great Lakes and New England.

A major winter storm is in progress across the north-central U.S. as a strong surface low slowly tracks across the Upper Midwest. Heavy snow with blizzard conditions at times is expected from northern Nebraska to northern Minnesota, with storm total snowfall in excess of 30 cm (1 foot) possible across the eastern Dakotas and northwest Minnesota, NWS forecaster Hamrick noted.

By Monday, December 30, the axis of heaviest snow becomes centered over northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with 15 – 30 cm (6 to 12 inches) of snow likely. Severe travel disruptions are likely for these areas through Monday.

"It's happening right now. It's going to probably last another two days, and the worst of it– this will be a serious snowstorm for the Upper Midwest, Northern Plain states," Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli reported on Sunday.

Snow and wind caused blizzard-like conditions in parts of Colorado overnight, while snow and ice produced dangerous travel conditions in North Dakota.

The storm has covered vehicles in ice in Nebraska. Some accidents also occurred due to slippery road conditions, including in Arkansas. Several cars were left stuck in blowing snow in South Dakota.

As of Saturday afternoon, December 28, 136 flights had been delayed at airports, according to FlightAware. Denver saw at least 455 delays and 80 cancelations.

Airlines have issued a wide range of waivers to assist travelers in case of disruptions. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines have all issued weather waivers for various Midwest airports including Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver. 

Southwest Airlines has also issued a weather waiver for Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. In each case, airlines have allowed passengers to rebook travel for another day without change fees.

Winter storm warnings remains in place for western and northern parts of Minnesota through Monday afternoon, December 30.

As the winter storm heads east, warm weather in the Great Lakes and along the Mid-Atlantic may be experienced, but northern parts of New England may see a mixture.

Forecasts said the highest threat of ice will be north of Albany and west of Burlington, Vermont. Central Vermont, and New Hampshire.

Airports throughout upper New England may see delays if the winter weather forecast holds. Furthermore, if the cold air will push to the south, major travel disruptions could also move into the Boston and New York City areas.

GFS forecast model

Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-East. Acquired December 29, 2019, at 18:50 UTC

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