Commuters in U.S. South face tough trek after deadly storm

Snow cover in the U.S. 1-18-18 - National Weather Service

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Commuters in the U.S. South faced frigid temperatures and dangerously slick roads on Thursday after a winter storm, responsible for at least eight deaths, thrashed the region with heavy snow and winds that snapped power lines.

Schools in New Orleans, Charlotte and Atlanta and across the region canceled classes on Thursday as winter weather advisories from the National Weather Service (NWS) remained in effect from eastern Texas to Florida and north into southeast Virginia.

“Motorists are urged to use extreme caution, or avoid travel if possible,” the NWS said in an advisory, warning that freezing temperatures would keep roads icy.

Wind chill advisories were in effect as temperatures will feel like they have fallen below zero Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) in parts of the Carolinas, Alabama and Virginia.

More than 14,000 households and businesses in North Carolina and Louisiana and in various parts of the South were without power early on Thursday, utility companies said online.

The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana declared states of emergency because of severe conditions that made traveling treacherous.

“We cannot stress it enough for everyone to stay off the roads unless you have no choice,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement, adding the storm had caused 1,600 traffic accidents.

More than 9 inches (23 cm) of snow have fallen in Durham, North Carolina since Monday, with 7 inches (18 cm) or more measured at various locations across southern Virginia, the NWS said.

The storm has caused at least eight deaths.

In Austin, Texas, a vehicle plunged more than 30 feet (9 meters) off a frozen overpass on Tuesday, killing a man in his 40s, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said on its Twitter feed.

An 82-year-old woman who suffered from dementia was found dead on Wednesday behind her Houston-area home, likely due to exposure to cold, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said. Another woman died from cold exposure in Memphis, police said on Twitter.

In Georgia, two people were fatally struck by a car that slid on an ice patch near Macon, local media reports said.

A man was killed when he was knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans and an 8-month-old baby died in a car crash in suburban New Orleans, local news reports said.

A woman died in West Virginia in a car crash, local reports said.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Edmund Blair and Bernadette Baum)

Erie, Pennsylvania pummeled by record 5 feet of snow

A general view of 1925 State Street after the record snowfall in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 26, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media.

(Reuters) – Snow piled up in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday after two days of record-breaking snowfall that had already surpassed 5 feet (1.5 meters), breaking city and state records, according to the National Weather Service.

Though residents are used to winter snow squalls blowing in from adjacent Lake Erie, which straddles the border with Canada, the Christmas storm is already one for the ages.

“This is an incredible amount of snow that we’re trying to move,” the Erie Police Department said in statement after the city declared a “snow emergency” on Tuesday, imploring people to stay off the streets.

By Tuesday evening, meteorologists had counted at least seven different city and state records broken by the storm.

The 34 inches (0.86 meters) that fell on Christmas Day alone was a new record for any single day in Erie, handily beating the 20-inch record set back in 1956, the National Weather Service said.

And the storm broke a 59-year-old record for two-day snowfall recorded anywhere in Pennsylvania, totaling 58 inches when Tuesday’s barrage was added and beating the 44-inch record set in Morgantown in 1958.

Another two to four inches of snow were forecast for Wednesday, with up to 6 inches in some places.

No residents of Erie, a city of 99,000 people according to recent U.S. census estimates, have been publicly reported as being injured in the storm, though some have complained to local news outlets about how long it takes to shovel out their driveways this week.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf deployed 21 Pennsylvania National Guard troops along with some all-terrain military vehicles to the region on Tuesday to help residents dig out, check on people’s well-being and transport emergency responders around the area.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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)

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)

Record snows and storms to affect holiday travels

The first snowfall brought amounts amounts of snow ranging from a few inches to 20 inches from South Dakota through Michigan over the weekend as temperatures plunged southward.

Chicago recorded its second-heaviest snowfall during a single storm in November  causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled and others to be delayed.

According to the National Weather Service, Saturday’s snowfall of 11.2 inches recorded Friday and Saturday was beat only by a snowstorm ending on November 26 in 1895 that saw 12 inches of snow.

For Thanksgiving, a storm system will have a mix of soaking rain, snow, cold winds and possible ice on the central part of the United States.

According to Accuweather, the Thanksgiving Day storm will center itself between warmer air in the Eastern U.S. and brisk cold air in the west as it plunges southward.  Rain and snow with a potential for a narrow zone of ice threatens the central states.

Heavy rain across Oklahoma, Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri lie within this storm zone.  Freezing rain and sleet could develop from portions of southeastern Nebraska to southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado on Thanksgiving Day.

Stay tuned to weather reports as you make your plans for the Thanksgiving week and check with your airline for any delays.

Rare July Snowfall Hits Rockies

The National Weather Service (NWS) says ‘this pattern should not happen in July.”

The pattern? A weather front that brought several inches of snow to elevations over 8,000 feet in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

The NWS also said the front was bringing the “windiest July day ever” to the region.

“In my 27 years as the chief meteorologist for KXLF/KBZK, I have only reported a few times that snow is falling in SW Montana in July,” Mike Heard, a television meteorologist for the affiliate serving Bozeman and southwest Montana, told the Washington Post. “Today [Monday] is one of those days.”

The weather system was a combination of moisture and cold air from Alaska and Canada that stalled over the region. The NWS says those weather patterns usually do not appear until late August or early September.

The famed Jackson Hole, Wyoming ski resort said they had over an inch of snow and farmers throughout the region had to scramble to cover crops. Other resorts reported a mix of rain and snow depending on the elevation.

“This morning it was snowing right where the ski lifts start and all the way up the mountain,” said Tom Conway, assistant golf pro at Big Sky Resort south of Bozeman. “At our elevation on the golf course, about 6,500 feet, it was raining. But at 9,000 feet there was about an inch or two of accumulation.”

“We’ve covered our melons and cukes and closed the greenhouses. We are saying to the fruits and veggies, ‘Stay warm, everybody,'” Jessica McAleese, co-owner of Swift River Farm said to Yahoo.

Baby Of Stranded Couple Delivered During Buffalo Snowstorm

The parents of a baby girl in Buffalo are praising God for sending who they called “two angels” after the massive snowstorms stranded them before they could reach a hospital.

Bethany and Jared Hojnacki tried to rush to a hospital when Bethany went into labor early Tuesday morning.  She and her husband ended up stranded on the highway when the snow became too heavy.

The couple ended up being stranded near a woman who was a labor and delivery nurse.  Jared told CNN the nurse stayed with his wife throughout her labor and delivered the baby girl at a nearby firehouse.

Stranded at the firehouse was a maternity nurse who was able to take care of the new baby.

“It was kind of incredible,” Hojnacki said on Wednesday. “God really put the people who needed to be in the right spot for us at the right time.”

The baby was named Lucy Grace Johnacki.

Seven Dead From Great Lakes Storm

At least seven people are confirmed dead from the massive snowstorm that slammed several Great Lakes states.

The storm has dumped massive amounts of snow on New York including six feet of snow on the Buffalo area.  A state of emergency exists for 10 counties in New York.

“This storm is an extraordinarily difficult situation, with snowfall that may break records. We are prepared, but we need residents to stay off the roads so that first responders can do their work and keep people safe,” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said.

“Although the sun may be shining, we are using this opening to clear roads before the snow begins falling again. This is an opportunity to be a good neighbor and check on your fellow New Yorkers to see if they need assistance, but I urge everyone to stay off the road.”

One of the deaths was a 46-year-old man found inside a buried car. A Pennsylvania man was killed when a high lift attempting to free the man’s car ended up pinning him to the car.

Forecasters say that another two to three feet of snow could hit the Buffalo area.

Snowstorm Leaves 135,000 Without Power

The first major snowstorm of the season struck Maine Sunday night leaving over 135,000 without power.

The National Weather Service said that Bangor, Maine received 12 inches of snow before the storm weakened and some outlying areas reported more than a foot.  A Portland television station reported they passed a foot by 5:30 p.m.

Heavy snow and gusty winds combined to bring down trees, snapping power lines and in some cases poles.  Roads across Bangor were closed because of the downed lines blocking major roadways.

Power officials hope to have all the darkened customers back on by Wednesday.

“The utility placed extra crews on standby for the weekend in anticipation of the storm,” Emera spokesman Bob Potts said in a news release. “They will remain in the field addressing problems and working to restore service to customers as safely and quickly as possible.”

Emera had 57,000 customers without power in their region.

Forecasters say the temperatures will rise into the 50s by midweek so the snow will quickly disappear.