Massive snowstorm hits midwest America
A massive winter storm has hit midwest America, contributing to at least five road deaths in the last few days.
The storm hit the Rockies and Plains then punched east, with snow set to assault a 2900km corridor through the weekend, creating transportation "havoc" in midwest America.
The system started as rain from Mexico and turned to snow as it met icy air. Up to 45cm of snow was expected in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains south of Denver, according to the National Weather Service.
As the storm heads east, up to 41cm of snow were likely in western Missouri and St. Louis.
Areas to the east could get about 15cm with ice developing in Kansas, and Arkansas, and up to 10cm of snow in Washington, DC, before the system heads out to sea late on Sunday, AccuWeather said.
"The storm is expected to create havoc over the central part of the country, then extend eastwards into the mid-Atlantic states," Randy Adkins, an AccuWeather meteorologist said.
The FlightAware.com flight tracking website reported 1431 flight cancellations on Friday and 12,465 delays, with problems at snow-hit airports like Denver causing knock-on effects around the country.
While the storm will spare the heavily populated Northeast, it likely will disrupt air and auto travel from Kansas City to Indianapolis, and will bring the heaviest snowfall so far this winter to Cincinnati and the Ohio River Valley, AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Walker said.
Although the Kansas City area is expected to get up to 15cm of snow, it should be over by the time the Kansas City Chiefs begin their National Football League playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts this weekend.
St. Louis emergency management officials are bracing for auto travel disruptions and possible power outages, but based on current forecasts, are not expecting to be overwhelmed, spokeswoman Tracy Panus said.
"This is not the first storm we've had in the St. Louis area," Panus, who is with the St. Louis County Police Department of Emergency Management, said by phone.
Missouri troopers responded to more than 3000 calls for help through early Saturday afternoon, including more than 700 crashes and 1,300 stranded vehicles.
In Indiana, the northbound lanes of Interstate 65 were closed for hours after a semitruck jackknifed along the snow-covered highway near Lafayette, about 105km northwest of Indianapolis.
As the system moves eastwards, it will hand off to a second coastal storm on Sunday that will bring 5 to 10cm of snow to the Washington, DC, area before it moves off the coast that night, Walker said.
"There could be a period of ice that we're concerned about across portions of central North Carolina and back into the mountain," he added.