Win­try weather hin­ders hol­i­day trav­el­ers

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - WEATHER - By Anita Snow

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.

Au­thor­i­ties found the bod­ies of two young chil­dren, in­clud­ing a 5year-old boy, and a third child was miss­ing in cen­tral Ari­zona af­ter a ve­hi­cle was swept away while at­tempt­ing to cross a runoff-swollen creek. A storm-re­lated death also was re­ported in South Dakota.

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

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

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.

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.

Air­lines at O’Hare In­ter­na­tional and Mid­way In­ter­na­tional in Chicago re­ported av­er­age de­lays of 15 min­utes as a winter storm headed to­ward the Mid­west with heavy snow and ice and gusty winds.

The com­pa­nies said they had can­celed 27 flights at O’Hare and two at Mid­way as people scram­ble to get home on the year’s busiest travel week­end.

At Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Airport, there were 100 flights can­celed Satur­day be­cause of high winds.

“To­mor­row, the air­lines an­tic­i­pate to be the busiest travel day of the Thanks­giv­ing pe­riod at both O’Hare and Mid­way,“said Karen Pride, a spokes­woman for the Chicago Depart­ment of Avi­a­tion. “Every­body thinks the day be­fore Thanks­giv­ing is the busiest; it is not.”

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 ini­tially the found body of the 5-year-old about 3 miles down­stream from where the ve­hi­cle they were rid­ing in was swept away Fri­day, said Gila County sher­iff ’s Lt. Vir­gil Dodd. The se­cond of the three chil­dren turned up later Satur­day. The sher­iff ’s of­fice didn’t pro­vide the age and gen­der of the se­cond child or the third child who was still miss­ing.

The agency 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. Sher­iff ’s officials ini­tially had said six people, in­clud­ing four chil­dren, were res­cued at lo­ca­tions along the creek.

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

A 100-mile sec­tion of In­ter­state 80 in Ne­braska and Wy­oming closed Satur­day morn­ing be­cause of high winds and blow­ing snow. Sev­eral other roads and high­ways also were closed.

Back-to-back snow­storms and strong winds com­bined to se­ri­ously 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 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 of snow that fell be­fore Thanks­giv­ing.

Travel was also dif­fi­cult in Colorado on Satur­day.

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

In north­ern Mon­tana, more than a foot of fresh snow and strong wind gusts were ex­pected to com­bine to cre­ate ground bl­iz­zard con­di­tions along the Rocky Moun­tain front.

Me­te­o­rol­o­gist Chris­tian Cas­sel said people could be stuck in their homes for at least a day due to the near zero vis­i­bil­ity.

Alex McIn­tyre / As­so­ci­ated Press

Brit­tany Culp brushes snow off of her wind­shield on a windy and snowy Satur­day morn­ing in Gree­ley, Colo.

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