CHICAGO – A massive storm system blanketed the central United States on Thursday, whipping up blinding blizzards and dangerously frigid temperatures.
The storm stretched from New Mexico to Minnesota and was expected to continue to dump heavy snow on the region on Friday and Saturday as it made its way slowly north into Canada.
“We're expecting almost a one-two punch across the middle part of the country over the next two days,” said Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the National Weather Service (NWS).
“You might find localized areas that get as much as 18 inches” (46 centimeters) of snow.
The storm came as much of the northeast was still digging out from one of its worst blizzards in decades.
Back to back storms are pretty typical for this time of year, said NWS forecaster Bob Oravec.
“Once the large scale pattern sets up you can be very stormy and have one after another,” he told AFP.
White-out conditions led to a massive pile-up on a Fargo, North Dakota freeway involving about 100 vehicles, local media reported.
At least two people were taken to hospital and rescue crews had trouble getting to all the cars and trucks because the road was such a mess of jumbled vehicles.
Highways were closed across the eastern part of the state and officials warned people to stay off the roads whenever possible.
“Visibility is zero. Roads are glare ice,” North Dakota Highway Patrol Sergeant Dave Wolf told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.
“If you have to stop quick, you're sliding.”
Highways in the Arizona mountains were also closed, but not before about 150 people got stranded and needed to be rescued, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.
A sudden blizzard in southern New Mexico caused havoc on the roads as many people went home early ahead of the New Year's holiday weekend.
“Everything is really, really slick so we are discouraging people from traveling,” Police Captain Terry Thortonberry told the Silver City Sun-News.
– AFP /ls
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