Winter storm lashes northern United States with snow, ice, wind

Thousands of flights are cancelled or delayed, schools and businesses close as winter storm moves across US.

A person crosses a frosty street
Authorities have urged residents to stay inside if possible as the US is hit by freezing temperatures [Nam Y Huh/AP Photo]

A large winter storm has brought heavy snowfall and howling winds to sections of the northern United States, where authorities have urged residents to stay inside and cautioned that road travel will be nearly impossible.

The storm battered the Upper Midwest on Wednesday, working its way across large areas of the western and northern US and placing about 50 million people under winter weather advisories as the storm expands to include eastern states.

“Moderate, Major and Extreme winter weather impacts are expected from the West Coast to New England with travel not advised in the Upper Midwest due to blizzard conditions,” the National Weather Service (NWS) had said via Twitter on Tuesday.

Pedestrians try to stay warm as they walk down the street
Pedestrians try to stay warm in the western state of Colorado, where some districts have cancelled school amid a winter storm [David Zalubowski/AP Photo]

In the western state of Wyoming, almost all roads were impacted.

“Multi-day closures are likely on Interstates and secondary roads throughout Wyoming,” the state’s Department of Transportation said in a Facebook post.

Schools in states such as North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were closed on Wednesday in anticipation of the storm, and snow, rain, and wind closed a large stretch of interstate highway in the Southwest.

“Sometimes, it’s physically impossible to keep up with Mother Nature,” North Dakota Highway Patrol Sergeant Wade Kadrmas told The Associated Press.

He warned those who venture out to dress appropriately. Often, when motorists get stranded, “They don’t have a winter jacket. They might be wearing shorts and flip-flops, just thinking they’re going to get from point A to point B and nothing is going to go wrong,” he said.

More than two thousand flights were cancelled or delayed in cities such as Chicago, Denver, and Minneapolis, and Frank Pereira, a forecaster with the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center, told Reuters that icy roads would make travel “near-impossible” in the Upper Midwest.

California was also lashed by strong winds and snowfall, with more than 100,000 homes and businesses experiencing power outages, according to

“Folks, we’re seeing a ton of strong wind reports: downed trees, roof damage, debris moving across roads, blowing sand that reduces visibility, and power outages,” said NWS Bay Area on Twitter. “With widespread impacts, power outages may last longer than a day. Be prepared with supplies!”

A one-year-old child was critically injured when a redwood crashed onto a home in Boulder Creek, a community in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco, KTVU reported. Chief Mark Bingham of the local fire protection district said crews had to cut up the tree to free the victim.

A blizzard warning was issued for the mountains of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, effective from early Thursday morning to Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

“Nearly the entire population of CA will be able to see snow from some vantage point later this week if they look in the right direction (ie, toward the highest hills in vicinity),” UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain said in a post on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the southeast and mid-Atlantic were preparing for higher-than-normal temperatures, with some areas expecting temperatures 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (16.5-22 degrees Celsius) warmer than usual.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies