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Wintry weather bedevils holiday weekend travelers around US

by ace
Lights out: Power cut in California to prevent deadly fires

The winter weather plagued Thanksgiving weekend travelers in the United States on Saturday, when a powerful and dangerous storm moved east, pouring heavy snow from parts of California to the midwestern North and flooding others. Rainy areas.

Authorities found the bodies of two small children, including a 5-year-old boy, and a third child was missing in central Arizona after a vehicle was dragged while trying to cross a swollen stream. A storm-related death was also reported in South Dakota.

The National Weather Service said the storm was expected to fall 15 to 30 inches of snow from northern Plains to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

Early Saturday snowfall conditions were already reaching the high plains. The city of Duluth, Minnesota issued a "no travel warning" from noon Saturday because of a major snowstorm that was called "historic."

Duluth officials urged the public to be patient as they plowed clear roads and recommended that drivers stay off the road to avoid accidents and that police respond more quickly to emergencies.

Further south, rains and thunderstorms were forecast along and in front of the cold front, with heavy rains possible on Saturday in parts of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys.

Analysts said a new storm should bring California several feet of snow in the mountains, rain and strong winds over the weekend. Another system is expected to develop in the middle of the Atlantic on Sunday, moving as Norwegian to Monday.

Airlines from O'Hare International and Midway International in Chicago reported average delays of 15 minutes while a winter storm was heading into the Midwest with heavy snow, ice and high winds.

The companies said they had canceled 27 flights on O'Hare and two on Midway, as people scramble to get home on the busiest weekend of the year.

At Denver International Airport, there were 100 flights canceled on Saturday because of high winds.

"Tomorrow, airlines expect to be the busiest day of Thanksgiving on O&H and Midway," said Karen Pride, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Aviation Department. "Everyone thinks the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest; it's not."

Western state authorities were still struggling on Saturday with heavy rains and snow on the busiest weekend of the year.

In Arizona, authorities initially found the 5-year-old's body about 3 miles downstream from where their vehicle was dragged on Friday, Gila County Sheriff Lieutenant Virgil Dodd said. . The second of the three sons appeared on Saturday. The sheriff's office did not report the age and sex of the second child or third child who was still missing late Saturday afternoon.

The agency said on Saturday that two other children and two adults in the vehicle had been rescued from a small island and from the bank of the creek in Tonto National Forest, northeast of Phoenix. Sheriff's authorities initially said six people, including four children, were rescued Friday at locations along the creek.

California families enjoyed early-season snow in the Grapevine area, downhill in Frazier Park, California. Traffic was heavy, but Interstate 5 was open in both directions as vacationers drove home.

High winds and ice were making travel almost impossible in some other places, however.

A 160-mile section of Interstate 80 in Nebraska and Wyoming closed Saturday morning because of high winds and blowing snow. Several other roads and highways were also closed.

Consecutive snowstorms and high winds combined to seriously complicate overland travel in much of the rest of Wyoming, where roads were closed in the eastern and southern parts of the state due to blackout conditions.

The Wyoming National Weather Service reported that 10 cm of snow fell on Cheyenne from 7 pm. From Friday to 10 am Saturday, "which was blown throughout the kingdom, came through our winds," said weatherman Andrew Lyons.

This was added to a foot (30 centimeters) of snow that fell before Thanksgiving.

Wind gusts of up to 80 km / h have created ground snowfalls and sub-zero temperatures in some areas. A gust of 124 km / h was reported in the mountains between Cheyenne and Laramie, Lyons said.

All roads in and out of Casper were closed Saturday morning, including the entire 300-mile stretch of Interstate 25 in Wyoming.

Trips were also difficult in Colorado on Saturday, with winds blowing around the snow that had fallen in previous days.

Northeast Colorado's roads were closed due to high winds, blowing and drifting snow, and poor visibility.

In northern Montana, more than one foot of fresh snow and strong gusts of wind must combine to create ground blizzard conditions along the Rocky Mountain front.

Meteorologist Christian Cassel told the Great Falls Tribune that people could be trapped in their homes for at least a day due to near-zero visibility.


Phoenix Snow Report. AP writers Paul Davenport in Phoenix, Amy Hanson in Helena, Montana and Ivan Moreno in Milwaukee, Kathleen Foody in Chicago, Martha Mendoza in Frazier Park, California, and Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed reporting.


Anita Snow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/asnowreports


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