Snow, Ice, Wind Pummel Central US, Leaving 3 Dead, Thousands Without Power

A storm system stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes buffeted the central U.S. with heavy winds, rain, hail and snow, forcing flight cancellations, creating treacherous road conditions and killing at least three people, including a sleeping 2-year-old Louisiana girl. icy-roads-2

In the upper Midwest, the early spring storm brought snow to a region pining for sunshine and warmth. More than 200 flights were canceled Saturday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and blizzard conditions forced the airport in South Dakota’s biggest city, Sioux Falls, to remain closed for a second straight day.

The Minnesota Twins home game against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field was also snowed out Saturday, marking the first back-to-back postponements of baseball games in the stadium’s nine seasons. The Yankees and Tigers were rained out Saturday in Detroit.

Authorities closed several highways in southwestern Minnesota, where no travel was advised, and driving conditions were difficult across the entire southern half of the state. The National Weather Service predicted that a large swath of southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, would get 9 to 15 inches (23 to 38 centimeters) of snow by the time the storm blows through on Sunday, though only a few inches had fallen on the area as of midday Saturday.

The storm is expected to persist through Sunday in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan before moving into New York state and New England.

A band of 6 to 18 inches (15 to 46 centimeters) of snow had fallen by Saturday morning across central and northeastern Wisconsin, with another round on the way. A blizzard warning was issued for the northern half of Wisconsin, which was expected to get another 14 inches (36 centimeters) by Sunday evening. Winds of up to 55 mph (88.5 kph) caused blowing and drifting snow, along with ice shoves in Green Bay.

The National Weather Service warned of potential coastal flooding along Lake Michigan. The storm system also brought ice to southern Wisconsin, and some areas, including Fond du Lac and Sheboygan, are expected to get a quarter-inch of ice accumulation by Sunday morning.

In Chicago, Lake Michigan waves were expected to reach as high as 18 feet (5.5 meters), prompting a flood warning until Sunday along the lakefront.

Snow and wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph (64 to 80 kph) were whipping through parts of South Dakota for a second-straight day Saturday, causing blizzard conditions that made travel all but impossible. While the blizzard warning was lifted in the western part of the state, it remained in effect for much of southern and eastern South Dakota. No travel was advised in Sioux Falls, where police said the blowing snow made it hard to see anything. Interstate 90 was closed across the eastern half of South Dakota, from Vivian to Sioux Falls, while Interstate 29 was closed from Sioux Falls north to Summit.

Huron, an eastern South Dakota city of about 13,000 people, received 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow. The state’s second-largest city, Rapid City, got 9 inches (23 centimeters). The southeastern corner of the state was expected to get 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of snow by Sunday morning. Winds remained strong, with gusts of 40 to 50 mph (64 to 80 kph).

The storm knocked out power to thousands of customers in Michigan, which was expected to get more snow and ice throughout the weekend. Western Michigan and the state’s Upper Peninsula were getting wind gusts of 50 mph (80 kph).

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:   AP
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