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Winter storm: Snow, ice, heavy rains threaten chaos as holiday travel season wraps up


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Winter storm: Snow, ice, heavy rains threaten chaos as holiday travel season wraps up

John Bacon USA TODAY Published 9:23 AM EST Dec 30, 2019 A weather front that brought record rains to Southern California on Christmas Day marched east on Sunday, threatening parts of the Midwest and East with more than a foot of snow, ice and whiteout conditions. In Minnesota, State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jesse Grabow advised would-be travelers to…

Winter storm: Snow, ice, heavy rains threaten chaos as holiday travel season wraps up


John Bacon


USA TODAY

Published 9:23 AM EST Dec 30, 2019

A weather front that brought record rains to Southern California on Christmas Day marched east on Sunday, threatening parts of the Midwest and East with more than a foot of snow, ice and whiteout conditions.

In Minnesota, State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jesse Grabow advised would-be travelers to stay at home Sunday, citing low visibility and dangerous driving conditions.

“High winds and blowing snow are creating whiteout conditions in areas,” Grabow warned. “Troopers … have been responding to several crashes and vehicles that slid off the road throughout the night.”

More than 2,000 flights were delayed or canceled Saturday out of airports in Denver and Chicago alone. 

The storm will “re-energize” in the northeastern United States with heavy rain for parts the mid-Atlantic and snow and ice for part of New England over the next few days, AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. That could cause problems for holiday travelers, he said.

“As millions journey home from their Christmas destinations and some begin a New Year’s holiday trip, the storm will throw a wrench into travel plans following relatively quiet weather conditions at Christmastime,” Sosnowski said.

The National Weather Service in Boston warned that “significant icing” was expected across much of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

“Travel is strongly discouraged and prepare for power outages,” the weather service tweeted. “Have a way to receive alerts and stay safe.”

The key to how much snow falls depends on the depth of a layer of warm air over the region. AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said that if the warm air can stretch a few thousand feet above the ground, then little snow will fall.

“Should the cold air resist this warm wedge, then parts of central and northern New England could be buried under a foot of snow or more,” Anderson said.

Sunday night into Monday afternoon is likely to be “miserable” in New York City and Philadelphia, Sosnowski said. Look for drenching rain, foggy episodes, high winds, urban flooding and a brisk easterly wind, he said. The likely result: travel delays on highways and at the airports.

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Farther south, locally severe thunderstorms with the potential for damaging wind gusts and a couple of tornadoes could sweep across of the mid-South and central Gulf States Sunday night, the weather service warned.

Much of the Great Lakes region was getting rain Sunday, but portions of Wisconsin and northern Michigan where snow was on the ground could face flooding, AccuWeather said. 

By Monday, colder air will filter in, allowing the rain to transition to snow. The steadiest snow will begin to taper off across the Plains on Monday, but not before leaving double-digit snowfall totals in some areas, AccuWeather said.

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