US Northern Plains brace for worst blizzard in years, warnings stretch across 5 states

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A severe winter storm is battering the northern plains and upper midwest regions of the US, causing travel chaos and power outages for millions of people.

Blizzard conditions, heavy snow, and high winds impacting millions, while flights face delays. Some regions hit with record-breaking snowfall, while others experience an unseasonably warm Christmas(Photo by Joe Klamar / AFP) /(AFP)
Blizzard conditions, heavy snow, and high winds impacting millions, while flights face delays. Some regions hit with record-breaking snowfall, while others experience an unseasonably warm Christmas(Photo by Joe Klamar / AFP) /(AFP)

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a warning that “blizzard conditions for central South Dakota into parts of Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado [are] resulting in difficult to near impossible travel” in the aftermath of Christmas.

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The storm is expected to dump as much as 13 inches of snow in some areas of South Dakota, along with strong winds of up to 55 miles per hour, the NWS said. The harsh weather could persist until early Wednesday morning, affecting more than a million residents and visitors.

By Tuesday morning, the day following Christmas, some parts of Nebraska and South Dakota had already seen four inches of snowfall, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). Some towns in south-eastern South Dakota had received a foot of snow, making it one of the heaviest snowfalls in recent years.

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The NWS also issued a blizzard warning for parts of five states – Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming – covering an area where 583,000 people live. In addition, an ice storm advisory was in effect for nearly half a million more people, warning of freezing rain and slippery roads.

3,000 flights delayed, power outages hit states

The South Dakota Department of Transportation announced that parts of Interstate 90, westbound and eastbound, would be shut down on Tuesday due to the dangerous conditions. The storm also disrupted the power supply in some areas, according to PowerOutage.us, a website that tracks outages across the country.

Officials said that air travel was not significantly affected by the storm, as long as the situation did not deteriorate further. However, some delays and cancellations were reported by FlightAware, a flight tracking service. It said that about 2,914 flights within the US had been delayed, and 87 flights to or from the US had been cancelled as of mid-morning.

ALSO READ| US weather: More snow expected in North and South Dakota amid blizzard warnings

Major airports, such as those in Washington DC, New York and Boston, were likely to experience travel disruptions due to the storm, especially for flights connecting to the affected regions.

Meanwhile, the NWS noted that despite the blizzard conditions in some parts of the country, many other areas did not have a white Christmas this year. In fact, it said that Minnesota and Wisconsin, which are usually very cold in winter, had possibly broken their high-temperature records for Christmas day.

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