Over 400 flights have been cancelled as a major snowstorm slams North America.

The storm piled into the west coast of the US on Wednesday, dumping heavy snow in Washington state and Wyoming.

The system then continued to strengthen as it headed east across the central plains. Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota were pummelled by strong winds and deep snow on Thursday.

Nearly half a metre of snow was recorded in Wisconsin’s state capital, Madison, and some locations were smothered in snow drifts of over one metre deep.

The winds gusted up to 80kph, ripping down trees and powerlines. 40,000 homes and businesses in Iowa alone lost power during the storm.

The Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, issued a state of emergency and called up the National Guard ahead of the storm to ensure the state was prepared for the worst.

The majority of the flight cancellations were at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports. This is having a knock-on effect on other airports around the US, in the lead-up to Christmas, one of the busiest travel times of the year.

The south was spared the snow, but instead endured torrential thunderstorms and gusty winds. A few tornadoes developed in Arkansas and Florida, which peeled roofs from the buildings, and toppled some large vehicles, and thunderstorms led to mass flight cancellation in Dallas.

The snow storm will continue its journey eastwards on Friday and Saturday, bringing treacherous conditions to the northeastern USA, and eastern Canada.

Source: Al Jazeera