US digs out from one winter storm as another looms
CHICAGO (AFP) – The central United States was digging out from a massive winter storm Friday while East Coast residents were preparing for a whopper set to strike over the weekend.
The weakened storm was nonetheless still packing a punch, snarling traffic and cancelling hundreds of flights as it hovered over the Great Lakes region.
A United Airlines plane slid off a runway in Cleveland Friday morning, but officials said nobody was hurt.
The National Weather Service warned that parts of New England could get over a foot (30 centimetres) of snow on Saturday and Sunday, adding to the huge drifts caused by two other storms that struck in the past couple weeks.
The southern end of that system is expected to bring major thunderstorms and possible flooding in Florida.
Meanwhile, ski resorts in the northern Rockies and Cascades were looking forward to a third system expected to dump one to four feet of snow (30 to 120 centimetres) in the mountains.
The first storm began Wednesday, hindering travel and dumping snow, sleet and freezing rain in 18 states from South Dakota to Pennsylvania in the north and all the way down to Texas to Arkansas in the south.
Kansas was the hardest hit, with nearly two feet of snow (60 centimetres) in some areas, making roads impassable and shuttering schools, businesses and government offices.
The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency after the midwestern state received a dangerous mix of more than a foot (30 centimetres) of snow in some areas along with freezing rain in others.
Hundreds of accidents were reported from Colorado to Arkansas as blinding snow and freezing rain created treacherous conditions. Only two fatalities were reported – in Nebraska and Oklahoma – on Wednesday.