Wintry weather bedevils holiday weekend travelers around US

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Street signs are covered in snow in north Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. A powerful storm making its way east from California is threatening major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend, as forecasters warned that intensifying snow and ice could thwart millions across the country hoping to get home after Thanksgiving. The storm has already killed at least one person and shut down highways in the western U.S., stranding drivers in California and prompting authorities in Arizona to plead with travelers to wait out the weather before attempting to travel. (Cody Bashore/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

(AP) – Wintry weather bedeviled Thanksgiving weekend travelers across the United States Saturday as a powerful and dangerous storm moved eastward, dumping heavy snow from parts of California to the northern Midwest and inundating other areas with rain.

A city snowplow helps clear roads north of downtown Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. A powerful storm making its way east from California is threatening major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend, as forecasters warned that intensifying snow and ice could thwart millions across the country hoping to get home after Thanksgiving. The storm has already killed at least one person and shut down highways in the western U.S., stranding drivers in California and prompting authorities in Arizona to plead with travelers to wait out the weather before attempting to travel. (Cody Bashore/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

One storm-related death was reported in South Dakota, and three children were missing in central Arizona after a vehicle was swept away while attempting to cross a runoff-swollen creek.

The National Weather Service said the storm was expected to drop 6 to 12 inches (15-30 centimeters) of snow from the northern Plains states into Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

This photo provided by Big Bear Mountain Resort shows a fresh snow fall at Big Bear Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, Calif., Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. California is drenched or blanketed in snow after a powerful Thanksgiving storm. Rain and snow showers are continuing in parts of the state Friday, while skies are clearing elsewhere. (Lee Stockwell/Big Bear Mountain Resort via AP)

Blizzard conditions early Saturday were already buffeting the High Plains. The city of Duluth, Minnesota, issued a “no travel advisory” beginning at noon Saturday because of a major snow storm it termed “historic.”

This photo provided by Big Bear Mountain Resort shows a fresh snow fall at Big Bear Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, Calif., Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. California is drenched or blanketed in snow after a powerful Thanksgiving storm. Rain and snow showers are continuing in parts of the state Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, while skies are clearing elsewhere. (Big Bear Mountain Resort via AP)

Duluth officials asked the public to be patient as plows clear roadways and recommended that drivers stay off the roads to prevent accidents and let officers respond more quickly to emergencies.

Farther south, rain and thunderstorms were forecast along and ahead of the cold front, with heavy rainfall possible Saturday in parts of the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys.

Commuters drive as the snow continues to fall north of downtown Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. A powerful storm making its way east from California is threatening major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend, as forecasters warned that intensifying snow and ice could thwart millions across the country hoping to get home after Thanksgiving. The storm has already killed at least one person and shut down highways in the western U.S., stranding drivers in California and prompting authorities in Arizona to plead with travelers to wait out the weather before attempting to travel. (Cody Bashore/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

Forecasters said a new storm is expected to bring California several feet of mountain snow, rain and gusty winds through the weekend. Another system is forecast to develop in the mid-Atlantic Sunday, moving as a nor’easter into Monday.

Authorities in the western states were still grappling Saturday with the aftermath of heavy rains and snow over the busiest travel weekend of the year.

In Arizona, officials continued their searching for three children missing after the vehicle they were riding in was swept away Friday in Tonto Creek.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday two other children and two adults who were in the vehicle were rescued from a small island and the bank of the creek in Tonto National Forest northeast of Phoenix.

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

A bus from the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (NAIPTA) turns toward downtowndowntown Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. A powerful storm making its way east from California is threatening major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend, as forecasters warned that intensifying snow and ice could thwart millions across the country hoping to get home after Thanksgiving. . (Cody Bashore/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

A 100-mile section of Interstate 80 in Nebraska and Wyoming closed Saturday morning because of high winds and blowing snow.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation said I-80 was closed in both directions and advised against travel in the state’s Panhandle region. Several other roads and highways also were closed.

Back-to-back snowstorms and strong winds combined to serious complicate travel by land across much of the rest of Wyoming, where roads were closed in the eastern and southern parts of the state because of whiteout conditions.

The National Weather Service in Wyoming reported 4 inches (10 centimeters) of snow fell in Cheyenne from 7 p.m. Friday through 10 a.m. Saturday “that has been blown all over kingdom come by our winds,” said meteorologist Andrew Lyons.

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

Wind gusts up to 50 mph (80 kph) created ground blizzards and below-zero wind chill temperatures in some areas. A wind gust of 77 mph (124 kph) 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 (483-kilometer) of Interstate 25 in Wyoming.

Travel was also difficult in Colorado Saturday as winds blew around snow that had fallen in previous days.

Street signs are covered in snow in north Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. A powerful storm making its way east from California is threatening major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend, as forecasters warned that intensifying snow and ice could thwart millions across the country hoping to get home after Thanksgiving. The storm has already killed at least one person and shut down highways in the western U.S., stranding drivers in California and prompting authorities in Arizona to plead with travelers to wait out the weather before attempting to travel. (Cody Bashore/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

Northeastern Colorado roads were closed due to strong winds, blowing and drifting snow and poor visibility.

Interstate 25, U.S. Highway 85 and U.S. Highway 287 were closed north of Fort Collins, Colorado due to the poor conditions in Wyoming.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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