Hundreds of flights have been canceled and roads are treacherous in several US Midwestern states as a deadly storm system stretching from Gulf Coast to Great Lakes rolls across the central US, bringing heavy snow, strong winds, rain and hail.
All flights were on Saturday grounded at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport as a spring blizzard made it difficult to keep runways clear and planes deiced.
Nearly 470 flights were canceled before one runway reopened shortly after 10pm, a spokesman said.
Blizzard conditions also forced the airport in South Dakota’s biggest city, Sioux Falls, to remain closed for a second straight day.
Authorities closed several highways in southwestern Minnesota, where no travel was advised, and driving conditions were difficult across the southern half of the state.
The US National Weather Service predicted that a large swath of southern Minnesota, including Minneapolis and St Paul, could get up to 51cm of snow by the time the storm blew through yesterday.
“It’s a cool experience for me, the best Minneapolis experience,” Niko Heiligman, of Aachen, Germany, said as he braved the snow on Saturday to take a walk along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. “I’m only here for the weekend, so I guess that’s how it goes. There’s snow and it’s cold. So it’s good.”
The weather was expected to persist through yesterday in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan before moving into New York and New England.
Up to 46cm of snow fell in parts of northern Wisconsin, with another 36cm expected by yesterday evening. Winds of up to 89kph caused blowing and drifting snow, along with ice shoves in Green Bay.
The weather service also warned of potential coastal flooding along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin and Illinois, where Chicago residents were warned that waves could reach as high as 5.5m.
Snow and wind gusts of up to 80kph were whipping through parts of South Dakota for a second straight day on Saturday, causing blizzard conditions that made travel all but impossible.
While the blizzard warning was lifted in the western part of the state, it remained in effect for far South Dakota yesterday.
Several centimeters of snow fell in various parts of the state, including 46cm in Huron.
Powerful winds knocked out electricity to thousands of customers in Michigan, which was expected to get more snow and ice through the weekend.
Two storm-related deaths occurred early on Saturday. In Louisiana, winds downed a tree onto a mobile home in Haughton, killing a sleeping two-year-old girl inside, the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
In Wisconsin, a woman was killed when she lost control of the minivan she was driving and struck an oncoming sports utility vehicle near Lewiston.
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