A powerful winter storm front sweeping across the American Midwest this weekend left large swaths of the region blanketed in snow, blasted by powerful winds and struggling to deal with transportation disruptions that on occasion proved fatal.
Heavy, swirling snow blanketed multiple Midwestern cities. Minneapolis, Minnesota, is expected to receive as much as 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow by the time the storm moves out of the region on Sunday. The city of St.Paul declared a snow emergency. The airport serving both cities, known together as the Twin Cities, was forced to cancel nearly 470 flights as airport crews struggled to keep planes and runways free of snow.
Blizzard conditions, characterized by strong and sustained winds and snow that can lead to limited visibility, also forced South Dakota’s Sioux airport to remain closed for the second day. Winds in the state reached up to 50 mph (80kph), leading to whiteouts and causing authorities to issue warnings against any type of travel.
Tall waves off Lake Michigan
Signs in Nebraska warned travelers to stay off the roads
On Saturday, up to 18 inches of snow had already covered parts of the state of Wisconsin, with an additional 14 inches (36 centimeters) expected by Sunday evening. The state, which lies west of Lake Michigan, received warnings from the National Weather Service that waves as high as 18 feet (5.5 meters) could crash into the coast. The service also issued similar warnings for the lakeside city of Chicago.
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On the other side of Lake Michigan, Michigan state was pummeled by high winds that cut electricity to thousands. More snow and ice is expected there on Sunday as the storm passes out of the Midwest and continues eastward towards New York and the upper north Atlantic region.
The system also brought violent weather to more southern regions of the US. Hail the size of hen eggs was reported in Texas while a tornado ripped through the town of Mountainburg, Arkansas, on Friday, injuring four and caused widespread damage.
Drivers worked to free a car trapped in heavy snow in Nebraska on Saturday
The front had fatal consequences, as well. Two drivers were killed in the Midwest over the weekend in separate snow and ice-related vehicle accidents, one in Idaho and one in Wisconsin, while a 2-year-old girl was killed in the gulf state of Louisiana when a tree fell on a mobile home where she was sleeping.
Bad news for baseball fans
The spring season snow storm also collided with the early weeks of the baseball season resulting in historic game cancellations: The Minnesota Twins called off Saturday’s game in Minneapolis, the second game in a row against the Chicago White Sox to be canceled.
It was the first back-to-back postponements of baseball games in the Minneapolis stadium’s nine seasons.
While baseball fans may not have rejoiced over the winter weather, others enjoyed the chilly temperatures, blustery winds and falling fluffy white stuff.
The Twins Spanish-language Twitter account posted a photo of team pitcher Fernando Rodney making the best of the snow with his signature “arrow” move.
A visitor from Aachen, Germany, also enjoyed the wintery weather: “It’s a cool experience for me, the best Minneapolis experience,” Niko Heiligman told the Associated Press news agency while braving the snow on Saturday in Minneapolis to stroll downtown along the Mississippi River. “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.”
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cmb/jlw (AP, Reuters)