Flights canceled, highways closed as winter storm wallops U.S.
PIERRE, S.D. >> A brutal winter storm knocked out power in California and the Midwest, closed interstate highways from Arizona to Wyoming and prompted more than 1,500 flight cancellations Wednesday — and the worst won’t be over for several days.
Few places were untouched by the wild weather, some at the opposite extreme: long-standing record highs were broken in cities in the Midwest, mid-atlantic and
The wintry mix was hitting hard in the northern U.S., closing schools, offices, even shutting down the Minnesota Legislature. Travel was difficult. Weather contributed to more than 1,500 U.S. flight cancellations, according to the tracking service Flightaware. More than 400 of those were due to arrive or depart from the Minneapolis-st. Paul International Airport. Another 5,000-plus flights were delayed across the country.
Wyoming’s Transportation Department
posted on social media thatroadsacrossmuchofthesouthern part of the state were “impassable,” with “blowing snow and reduced to poor visibility into Friday!”
It wasn’t much better in neighboring states.
“Sometimes it’s physically impossible to keep up with Mother Nature,” said North Dakota Highway Patrol Sgt. Wade Kadrmas.
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.
In the Pacific Northwest, high winds and heavy snow in the Cascade Mountains prevented search teams from reaching the bodies of three climbers killed in an avalanche on Washington’s Colchuck Peak over the weekend. Two experts from the Northwest Avalanche Center were hiking to the scene Wednesday to determine if conditions might permit a recovery attempt later this week.
Powerful winds were the biggest problem in California, toppling trees and power lines. By Wednesday afternoon, more than 65,000 customers in the state were without electricity, according to Poweroutage.us.
A more than 200-mile stretch of Interstate 40 from central Arizona to the New Mexico line closed due to snow, ran and wind gusts of up to 80 mph. Thousands were without power in Arizona.