Ice storm targets central United States

empty runway at natioanal airport due to ice

Reuters) – An ice storm heading for the central United States is threatening to cause power outages and create treacherous travel conditions on Friday and into the weekend, the National Weather Service said.

Ice, freezing rain and winter storm warnings were in effect for a large swathe of the Plains, from the Texas panhandle north into Iowa and east through central Indiana, the Weather Service said in an advisory.

“Significant amounts of ice accumulations will make travel dangerous or impossible,” the weather service said. “Travel is strongly discouraged. Commerce will likely be severely impacted.”

Ice accumulation could be more than half an inch (1 cm) depending on local temperatures, creating slick roadways especially on bridges and overpasses, and possibly causing scattered power outages across the region, the service said.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for the entire state ahead of the storm.

“Emergency personnel are coordinating with state and local officials to ensure we are prepared and ready for whatever comes our way,” said Fallin.

A handful of public school districts and universities in Idaho, Oklahoma and other parts of the central region have either canceled classes on Friday or had delayed openings due to the impending storm.

Parts of the region could also see as much as 3 inches (8 cm) of snow later in the weekend, according to the forecast.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Bernadette Baum)

Snow, rain pummel parts of California, Nevada and Oregon

clearing snow from a driveway

(Reuters) – Heavy rain and snowfall hit parts of California, Nevada and Oregon early on Wednesday, causing roads to be closed, schools to cancel classes and widespread flooding along already swollen waterways.

A National Weather Service blizzard warning remained in effect until late on Wednesday morning for ski resort towns in the greater Lake Tahoe area, including Truckee and South Lake Tahoe, California, and neighboring Nevada enclaves of Stateline and Incline Village.

Snow accumulations of 5 to 10 feet (1.5 to 3 meters) were forecast above elevations of 7,000 feet, with fierce wind gusts reaching 100 miles (160 km) per hour along the ridge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the National Weather Service reported.

An avalanche warning was issued for much of the same mountain regions.

“Those venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented so persons in the warning area are advised to stay indoors,” the weather service said.

Roadways, including Interstate 80 near the border of California and Nevada, were closed on Wednesday morning.

Schools throughout the region canceled Wednesday classes, including the Portland Public Schools district in Oregon, attended by about 50,000 students.

Several flood warnings remained in effect until Wednesday morning for lower elevations in northern and central California and in western Nevada, where creeks and rivers were expected to overrun their banks.

Several communities in the region opened evacuation centers for people who heeded warnings from officials to move to higher ground to avoid flooding.

Heavy downpours sent a wall of mud down onto a house in Fairfax, California, trapping an elderly couple and their two granddaughters, according to local media. Firefighters rescued the couple and children and no one was injured, an ABC affiliate reported.

A series of floodgates on the Sacramento River, just upstream of California’s capital, were opened for the first time in 11 years on Tuesday to divert high water around the city and into a special drainage channel, said Lauren Hersh, a spokeswoman for the state Water Resources Department.

The cascade of rain and snow marked the fourth round of extreme precipitation unleashed during the past month by a weather pattern meteorologists call an “atmospheric river” – a dense plume of moisture flowing from the tropical Pacific into California.

The storms have brought some sorely needed replenishment to many reservoirs left low by five years of drought, while restoring California’s mountain snowpack to 135 percent of its average water-content level for this time of year as of Tuesday, state water officials said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Dominic Evans)

Powerful storms head for U.S. West after thousands flee floods

Partially submerged building in California

(Reuters) – Powerful storms packing heavy rain and snow will lash the U.S. West on Tuesday, a day after thousands of people fled their homes to escape floods, forecasters said.

A band of heavy downpours will drench northern California and heavy snow will fall in the Sierra Nevada mountains into Wednesday, exacerbating the threat of flooding, the National Weather Service said.

The storms are part of weather system called the “Pineapple Express” that has soaked a vast area from Hawaii to the typically drought-prone states of California and Nevada.

Just north of San Francisco, the Russian River in Sonoma County flooded early on Monday, forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000 residents, officials said.

In Nevada, residents of about 400 homes in Reno were ordered to leave as rains swelled the Truckee River, which flows through the city, a county official said.

A woman died after she was struck by a falling tree in the San Francisco area, local officials and media reported.

Over the weekend, an ancient giant sequoia tree with a hollowed-out tunnel was toppled by floods in Calaveras Big Trees State Park just southeast of Sacramento.

California’s Napa Valley vinyards largely escaped undamaged and the rain was expected to replenish water supplies after five years of drought, said Patsy McGaughy, Napa Valley Vintners spokeswoman.

California officially remains in a state of drought as water is still scarce in the south.

But northern California’s Lake Oroville, the principal reservoir for the State Water Project, has 2.25 million acre feet of water, more than double the amount it had a year ago, Michael Anderson, state climatologist for the California Department of Water Resources, said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee)

Snow storm takes aim at U.S. South, Southeast

Semi truck driver removes chains from truck

(Reuters) – A winter storm packing heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain is on track for the U.S. South and Southeast where roads may become impassable and power outages are possible starting on Friday and into the weekend, forecasters said.

A large swath of the United States, from Louisiana northeast through the Appalachian Mountains and into southern Pennsylvania, is expected to get as much as 8 inches (20 cm) of snow with 1 inch (3 cm) of sleet, according to the National Weather Service.

“If you don’t have to travel, don’t travel,” said Matthew Grantham, a NWS meteorologist in Alabama, adding that conditions were expected to worsen after dark on Friday.

A weather warning was in effect until Saturday afternoon for most of North Carolina along with northwest South Carolina and northern Georgia where heavy snow, freezing temperatures and wind gusts of up to 25 miles per hour (40 kph) were expected.

“The heavy snow will make many roads impassable and may produce widespread power outages,” the weather service said.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 79 counties and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley issued a state of emergency for his entire state.

The poor weather forced the postponement of the inauguration events that were scheduled over the weekend for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who was elected in November.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by John Stonestreet)

Record snow and rain stretches across parched U.S. west

(Reuters) – Record snow and rain pummeled the western United States on Thursday, raising the threat of floods and freezing temperatures in some areas across the region, weather officials said.

Winter storm warnings were in effect in parts of California, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah following days of snowfall and cold.

California, where a five-year drought has triggered dozens of wildfires, was bracing for floods after heavy rainfall earlier in the week. Rivers are expected to overflow in northern and central parts of the state at a rate last seen in December 2005, the National Weather Service said.

Snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which provides a critical source of water for California and has receded in recent years, is forecast to be twice the monthly average for January.

Snowstorms battered Oregon, which was in the grips of a moderate drought last year, prompting the closure of highways and schools.

In Medford, Oregon, a winter storm dumped more than eight inches of snow in a single day, the most the city has recorded over a 24-hour period in nearly a century, KTVL News 10 reported.

The Oregon State Police reported that its field office, located about 50 miles southeast of Portland, was buried under at least five feet of snow.

An 8-year-old girl was killed in the coastal area of Otis, Oregon, when a storm bringing high winds and snow caused a tree to crash onto her home earlier in the week, CBS reported.

In Boise, the capital city in the northwestern state of Idaho, 6.5 inches of snow fell on Wednesday, the most ever recorded on that date, the Weather Service said. Snow depth in the area was 15 inches, another record, it said.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Winter storm socks U.S. New England region

People walk along Wall Street ahead of a cold weather system across the region in Manhattan, New York City, U.S.,

By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) – A winter storm socked the U.S. New England region with heavy snow and high winds early on Friday, with some areas expected to see as much as 24 inches (61 cm) of snowfall, the U.S. National Weather Service said.

Winter storm warnings and advisories were in effect for areas stretching from northern New York through most of Maine, where snow was falling at a rate of about 3 inches per hour in parts of the state early on Friday.

“This is the first strong nor’easter New England has seen this season. What is impressive about it is how rapidly it is strengthening tonight from Cape Cod into Maine,” said Todd Foisy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou, Maine.

Much of the region was set for at least 6 inches (15 cm) of snow with the possibility of 24 inches (61 cm) in some parts, the National Weather Service said, warning of reduced visibility on roadways as gusts of 35 mph (56 kph) blow the snow around.

“Blowing snow will cause whiteout conditions. While lashing a rope to yourself might be an option, it is better to stay inside if at all possible,” the Bangor, Maine Police Department said on Facebook.

Most winter storm warnings in the region were expected to expire by Friday evening.

More than 35,000 customers were without power throughout the region early on Friday as a result of the storms, data from utility companies showed.

Some 20 flights were canceled and another 68 were delayed in and out of Boston’s Logan International Airport on Thursday as a result of the inclement weather, a common part of winter in New England.

A winter storm warning for parts of West Virginia and western Maryland was in effect until Friday afternoon.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Winter storm with heavy snows, fierce winds targets New England

National Weather forecast map..

By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) – A winter storm is expected to dump heavy snows and produce fierce winds in New England on Thursday evening and into Friday morning, the National Weather Service said.

More than a foot of snow (30 cm) and 50 mph (80 kph) winds are forecast from the Adirondacks Mountains in upstate New York to western Maine, leading to possible white-out conditions on roads and power outages, the weather service said in an advisory.

The storm will make travel across much of the region hazardous, the weather service said.

Storm and high wind watches and warnings were in effect for much of the region until Friday morning as snow fall rates could be as much as 3 inches (8 cm) an hour in some parts, according to the service.

Forecasters predict temperatures will be in the mid 20s and lower 30s on Thursday and Friday and dip into the teens on Saturday.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

New York and Boston could approach record lows in Arctic chill

People brave the cold weather in East Village in New York City, NY,

Dec 16 (Reuters) – The Arctic air blowing through New York and Boston will bring near record low temperatures on Friday, while another blast of cold air is flowing into the Midwest, a meteorologist said.

The mercury in New York City is forecast to drop to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 9 degrees Celsius), which would tie its record for this date, meteorologist Patrick Burke of the Weather Prediction Center told Reuters.

Temperatures in Boston are forecast to plunge to 2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 17 degrees Celsius), just above the 1883 record of 1 degree (minus 17 degrees Celsius), he said.

“This is well below normal even for those areas of the country that are kind of used to cold weather,” Burke said.

The frigid temperatures and blustery winds across the Northeast on Friday come as many parts of the United States face another brunt of cold, windy weather and snow that could interrupt people’s travel plans heading into the weekend.

People brave the cold weather in East Village in New York City,

People brave the cold weather in East Village in New York City, NY, U.S. December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Alex Wroblewski

Arctic air swept into the Midwest earlier this week before spreading to the East Coast. Another shock of cold air arrived from Canada into Montana and North Dakota late on Thursday, Burke said.

With it comes the risk of frostbite for many parts of the northern United States, a danger weather officials have warned about all this week as a result of the unusual cold.

The Arctic front will combine with a storm flowing across the Rocky Mountains on Friday, according to National Weather Service advisory. Extreme conditions in many parts of the country will continue into Saturday, it said.

The eastward spread of the snowstorm will blanket parts of South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin with between 5 inches and 10 inches of snow (13 to 25 cm), Burke said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Midwest snow storm grounds hundreds of Chicago flights

Person walking in high snow

(Reuters) – Hundreds of flights into and out of Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports were canceled on Sunday as a winter storm system dumped moderate to heavy snow on the Upper Midwest and Lower Great Lakes regions before heading toward the U.S. Northeast.

A winter storm warning was in effect in the Chicago area on Sunday afternoon, with total accumulations of up to 10 inches (25 cm) expected by midnight CST, the National Weather Service said.

It warned of difficult driving conditions in and around the country’s third-biggest metropolitan area, where snow began falling on Saturday afternoon.

As much as 13 inches of snow fell in parts of Michigan and up to 9 inches in parts of Minnesota by 8 a.m. CST on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

At O’Hare International Airport, the world’s fourth-busiest airport, United Air Lines and American Airlines have scratched most regional flights and some mainline service, while Southwest Air has canceled most flights out of Midway International on Sunday evening and Monday morning, the airports said.

Passengers took to Twitter to vent their frustrations over one of the first winter storms to snarl air traffic in the region this season.

“To all our fans in Vegas – we are stuck in Chicago from the snow storm, we are so so sorry. Winter weather is (sic) wrecked our plans. This sucks,” wrote the rock band One Republic in a Twitter post. The group had a show scheduled on Sunday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

All told, more than 1,200 flights into and out of O’Hare were canceled as of Sunday afternoon, according to the Flightaware tracking service, while nearly 200 Midway flights were scratched.

At Detroit’s Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, a Delta flight arriving from Buffalo, New York, skidded off the runway and came to a stop on a grassy verge around midday on Sunday, but there were no injuries, local media reported.

Representatives of the airport and the airline could not be reached immediately to confirm the reports.

(Reporting By Frank McGurty; Editing by Alan Crosby)

North Dakota governor orders pipeline protesters expelled

Women hold a prayer ceremony on Backwater Bridge during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota,

By Terray Sylvester

CANNON BALL, N.D. (Reuters) – North Dakota’s governor ordered the expulsion of thousands of Native American and environmental activists camped on federal property near an oil pipeline project they are trying to halt, citing hazards posed by harsh weather as a blizzard bore down on the area.

The “emergency evacuation” order from Governor Jack Dalrymple came days after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the site, set a Dec. 5 deadline for the demonstrators to vacate their encampment, about 45 miles (72 km) south of Bismarck, the state capital.

The Army Corps has insisted, however, that it has no plans to forcibly remove protesters, many of them members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The agency instead urged a “peaceful and orderly transition to a safer location.”

Late Monday, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II denounced Dalrymple’s order as a “menacing action meant to cause fear,” and accused the Republican governor of trying to “usurp and circumvent federal authority.”

Archambault noted that the evacuation order, which the governor said he issued for the campers’ well-being in the face of dangerous winter weather, came a week after police turned water hoses on protesters in sub-freezing temperatures.

Activists have spent months protesting against plans to route the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying the project poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American sites.

The governor did not specify how he intended to enforce his order other than by directing state and local agencies to refuse emergency assistance and other services to anyone who remained at the site. He said the order was effective immediately and would stay in force “until rescinded.”

But Standing Rock Sioux spokeswoman Phyllis Young told a news conference Monday night the tribe would stand its ground.

“We have lived for generations in this setting. That is our camp. We will continue to provide for our people there,” she said. “This is Lakota territory. This is treaty territory, and no one else has jurisdiction there.”

Protest leaders suggested a forced evacuation could prove more dangerous to the activists than staying put.

“We’re in the heart of winter now. To even think of a forced removal is terrifying,” said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network, who estimated there were about 5,000 people in the camp.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier added to the pressure by issuing a video statement urging protesters to avoid subjecting themselves to “life-threatening conditions” by remaining exposed to the elements with little shelter.

The National Weather Service has posted a storm warning for most of western and central North Dakota, forecasting the possibility of heavy snow through Wednesday.

The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline project is mostly complete except for a segment that is supposed to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

The Obama administration in September postponed final approval of an Army Corps permit required to allow tunneling beneath the lake, a move intended to give federal officials more time to consult tribal leaders. The delay also led to escalating tension over the project.

The companies say the pipeline would carry Bakken shale oil more cheaply and safely from North Dakota to Illinois en route to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries than it could be shipped by railroad or tanker trucks.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Leslie Adler, Robert Birsel)