More than 200 flights have been canceled as travel chaos hit the Midwest on Tuesday when up to 15 inches blanketed a few states during a major winter storm that left 100 million people under weather advisories.
The storm dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the middle of the country while another system blanketed areas of the Southwest, disrupting travel for a second consecutive day and shuttering many schools.
Several coronavirus testing sites closed Monday and Tuesday in Nebraska and Iowa, as both states saw 12 to 15 inches of snow in places.
At least 4 inches of snow was expected through Tuesday across most of an area stretching from central Kansas northeast to Chicago and southern Michigan. Ice is also predicted to accumulate just south of the snow from Kansas to New Jersey.
National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Taylor Nicolaisen, who is based near Omaha, said up to 15 inches was reported in spots between York, Nebraska, and Des Moines, Iowa.
‘This is historic snow,’ Nicolaisen said. He said it’s uncommon for the region to get more than a foot of snow from a single storm, and it has been decades since some cities saw this much.
More than 200 flights were canceled on Tuesday as travel chaos hit the Midwest where up to 15 inches blanketed several states during a major winter storm
Crews clean snow from a car parking lot at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday
Snow covers vehicles in a car parking lot at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday
Snowplows clear snow on Grand Avenue near the State Capitol in Des Moines. Workers in Des Moines started cleaning up a record snowfall Tuesday morning
‘A lot of people tend to misremember snow events — especially from when you were a kid. Everything felt like a foot of snow when you were a kid,’ Nicolaisen said.
‘The snow drifts were literally higher than your head when you were a kid, but that’s because you were 2 1/2 feet tall.’
‘If these snow totals materialize, they would be very rare for Iowa,’ the NWS in Des Moines wrote. ‘On average, single daily snowfalls of a foot or more only historically occur every 15 to 20 years.’
The storm made travel treacherous in places as wind-whipped snow piled up.
Interstates were temporarily closed in western Nebraska and in Wisconsin near Milwaukee because of crashes, and about 230 flights were canceled at airports across the region. Officials urged drivers to stay off the roads.
In Wisconsin, the weather service predicted up to 10 inches of snow could fall in the Milwaukee area, with the highest totals along Lake Michigan.
A lone runner leans into a stiff wind near Lake Michigan on the Northside of Chicago on Tuesday
A man shields himself from the rain with an umbrella as he walks along with a child during a rainy and foggy winter afternoon at the Ocean City boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey
Snow covers cars and Blondo Street east of Northwest Radial Highway in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday. The Omaha area recorded almost 12 inches of snow the day before
A worker clears a sidewalk in downtown Des Moines Tuesday morning following heavy snow Monday
Wind gusts of 15mph to 25mph were reported across southern Wisconsin, creating drifting snow, reduced visibilities and complicating snow removal efforts, said Andy Boxell, a meteorologist with the weather service’s office in Sullivan, Wisconsin.
In the Chicago area, more than 6 inches had already fallen by Tuesday afternoon and forecasters predicted up to 8 inches or more would fall in some areas before the storm ended Tuesday evening.
The last comparable snowfall hit the area in November 2018, when 8.4 inches fell.
Many schools and businesses across the Midwest closed for a second day Tuesday as crews worked to dig out after the storm.
Omaha had all 115 of its own plows and 300 contractors out Tuesday working around the clock to clear the streets in Nebraska’s biggest city, but Assistant Public Works Director Todd Pfitzer cautioned that the effort will take some time to complete.
Parts of Nebraska and Iowa could see between 12 to 18 inches of snow (depicted)
In the Chicago area, more than 6 inches had already fallen by Tuesday afternoon and forecasters predicted up to 8 inches or more would fall in some areas before the storm ended Tuesday evening
Traffic on a snow packed street in downtown Des Moines. Workers in Des Moines started cleaning up a record snowfall Tuesday morning
Wind gusts of 15mph to 25mph were reported across southern Wisconsin, creating drifting snow, reduced visibilities and complicating snow removal efforts, said Andy Boxell, a meteorologist with the weather service’s office in Sullivan, Wisconsin. A pedestrian crosses a snow covered street in Des Moines on Monday
Looking west from the Iowa State Capitol into central Des Moines Tuesday morning after a two-day snowstorm dropped nearly a foot of snow
‘We are asking for a little patience,’ Pfitzer told the Omaha World-Herald.
In West Des Moines, Iowa, Chris Borsberry said he needed four-wheel drive to make it into the Fairfield Inn & Suites where he works, and it took him twice as long as normal.
Once at the hotel, Borsberry said he had to shovel the sidewalk seven times because it kept getting covered until the snow finally stopped.
‘I got excited about that because it meant I only had one more shovel pass to do,’ said Borsberry, 45.
In the Southwest, more than a foot of snow fell in the mountains of Southern California, Nevada and Arizona.
Icy conditions in mountains north of Los Angeles shut Interstate 5 in Tejon Pass and State Route 58 in Tehachapi Pass.
A storm buried northern Arizona in snow while sending flurries to the outskirts of Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Preliminary snowfall reports from the latest storm included 14.2 inches at the Flagstaff airport and 16 inches at Payson between Sunday night and late Monday, the weather service said.
Most of Nevada was bracing for another series of powerful storms that generated a rare blizzard warning along with a forecast for as much as 6 feet of snow and wind gusting over 100mph in the mountains above Lake Tahoe by early Friday.
At lake level, the weather service expects 2 to 4 feet of snow with winds gusting to 50mph.
Meanwhile, in Alabama, a tornado ripped off roofs and destroyed homes, leaving one dead and 30 injured on Monday
Shocking aerial pictures show heaps of mangled metal and wooden debris littered across the Darlene Estates neighborhood in Fultondale – just north of Birmingham
‘Travel could be near impossible or even paralyzed with near-zero visibility through Friday morning,’ the service said.
Another major storm was approaching the coast with the potential to bring 10 to 15 inches of rain to central California and dump several feet of snow across the Sierra Nevada mountains over the next three days.
That could lead to flash floods and debris flows — which can carry massive boulders, trees and other objects — to areas north and south of San Francisco Bay.
Evacuation orders were in effect for areas of fire-scarred Santa Cruz County and evacuation warnings were issued in San Mateo County.
In the South, one person was killed and at least 30 others were injured after a tornado carved a 10-mile-long path of destruction north of Birmingham, Alabama, on Monday night, leaving the area with crumpled buildings and downed trees.
Shocking aerial pictures show heaps of mangled metal and wooden debris littered across the Darlene Estates neighborhood in Fultondale.
Officials said that a 14-year-old boy who was sheltering in his basement died when a tornado blew a tree onto the home and killed him, police said on Tuesday.
Several of his family members were critically injured when the home collapsed and trapped them in the basement.
At least 30 other people were injured as the tornado rampaged through the community, which was severely harmed by a much larger tornado a decade ago.