A major snowstorm has blanketed much of the central US, causing widespread disruption and leaving at least two people dead.

Cold air moving south from Canada has clashed with warm air moving northwards from the Gulf of Mexico, producing rain, snow and freezing rain.

Up to 40 centimetres of snow have fallen in Colorado and Kansas, and Oklahoma and Nebraska have also been badly affected. In one thirty minute period Topeka, Kansas reported a snow accumulation of 7.5 cm.

Interstate 70 was impassable over half its length and Kansas City International airport was closed. More than 1,300 flights have been cancelled by the bad weather or the anticipation of its arrival.

The two fatalities were the result of road traffic accidents in Oklahoma and Nebraska.

At least 20% of the country’s population has been affected by the storm which has also spawned tornadoes in some southern states. Snow has fallen from Arizona in the southwest to Ohio in the northeast.

The snow is expected to continue northeastwards and parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio could see another 15 cm during Friday and Saturday.

On a more positive note, farmers have welcomed the precipitation, in whatever form it has fallen. Much of the US is in a drought, and whilst the moisture deficit is as high as 30 cm in parts of the south and west, the equivalent of two to four cm has gone a little way towards easing the situation. Nevertheless, some 56 percent of the contiguous US remain under moderate to exceptional drought.

Source: Al Jazeera