Winter storm pounds Midwest

Blizzard likened to ‘small Tyrannosaurus rex’ veers for NE

  • Rescuers work to move a driver injured in a wreck on a slick, snow-covered street in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. The blizzard warning issued the day before by National Weather Service came to fruition in the region Wednesday as winds picked up and snow began falling in earnest before dawn. (AP Photo/The Republic, Joe Harpring)Rescuers work to move a driver injured in a wreck on a slick, snow-covered street in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. The blizzard warning issued the day before by National Weather Service came to fruition in the region Wednesday as winds picked up and snow began falling in earnest before dawn. (AP Photo/The Republic, Joe Harpring)
  • Residents clear cars and driveways as plows clear the streets in Carbondale, Ill. on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. A gusty winter storm slammed southern Illinois on Wednesday, leaving roads covered in ice and snow and prompting authorities to warn of whiteout conditions that could significantly reduce drivers' visibility. (AP Photo/ The Southern Illinoisan, Aaron Eisenhauer)Residents clear cars and driveways as plows clear the streets in Carbondale, Ill. on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. A gusty winter storm slammed southern Illinois on Wednesday, leaving roads covered in ice and snow and prompting authorities to warn of whiteout conditions that could significantly reduce drivers' visibility. (AP Photo/ The Southern Illinoisan, Aaron Eisenhauer)
  • A person pushes a kart while salting the sidewalk at Military Park in downtown Newark, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. The National Weather Service forecast sustained winds of 15 to 20 mph along the coast in the afternoon, with gusts up to 40 mph. The storm is expected to dump a total of four to six inches on the area and also produce sleet and freezing rain.  (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)A person pushes a kart while salting the sidewalk at Military Park in downtown Newark, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. The National Weather Service forecast sustained winds of 15 to 20 mph along the coast in the afternoon, with gusts up to 40 mph. The storm is expected to dump a total of four to six inches on the area and also produce sleet and freezing rain. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • A Indiana State Highway Garage snow plows moves work along Jonathan Moore Pike in Columbus, Ind. Wednesday Dec. 26, 2012. The blizzard warning issued the day before by National Weather Service came to fruition in the region as winds picked up and snow began falling in earnest before dawn. (AP Photo/The Republic, Joe Harpring)A Indiana State Highway Garage snow plows moves work along Jonathan Moore Pike in Columbus, Ind. Wednesday Dec. 26, 2012. The blizzard warning issued the day before by National Weather Service came to fruition in the region as winds picked up and snow began falling in earnest before dawn. (AP Photo/The Republic, Joe Harpring)
  • With a bicycle as his only means of transport, Dale Marchant of Winchester, Va. pedals along Valley Ave. in a snowstorm that is expected to dump four or more inches in the Winchester, Va. area, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/The Winchester Star, Jeff Taylor)With a bicycle as his only means of transport, Dale Marchant of Winchester, Va. pedals along Valley Ave. in a snowstorm that is expected to dump four or more inches in the Winchester, Va. area, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/The Winchester Star, Jeff Taylor)
  • Helen Earley cleans off her car in the parking lot of Hawkins Market in Ashland, Ohio Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 after buying groceries. (AP Photo/Ashland Times-Gazette, Tom E. Puskar)Helen Earley cleans off her car in the parking lot of Hawkins Market in Ashland, Ohio Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 after buying groceries. (AP Photo/Ashland Times-Gazette, Tom E. Puskar)
  • Driver Neil Simmons keeps an eye on the load as his trucks is loaded up with salt at the Oakland County Road Commission maintenance yard in Southfield, Mich., Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 26, 2012.  (AP Photo/The Detroit News, David Guralnick)Driver Neil Simmons keeps an eye on the load as his trucks is loaded up with salt at the Oakland County Road Commission maintenance yard in Southfield, Mich., Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, David Guralnick)
  •  Elizabeth Seymour, 9, front, gets a mouthful of snow while sledding at the Colllierville, Tenn., landfill with Carly Catanzaro, 10, and her sister Ellery Seymour, 10, back, Wednesday Dec. 26, 2012. Shelby county managed to avoid the heavy snow that blanketed much of Arkansas, but that didn't stop the trio of sledders from taking advantage of the popular hill. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Jim Weber) Elizabeth Seymour, 9, front, gets a mouthful of snow while sledding at the Colllierville, Tenn., landfill with Carly Catanzaro, 10, and her sister Ellery Seymour, 10, back, Wednesday Dec. 26, 2012. Shelby county managed to avoid the heavy snow that blanketed much of Arkansas, but that didn't stop the trio of sledders from taking advantage of the popular hill. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Jim Weber)
  • A Coast Electric Power Association lineman grounds a line on a replacement pole in McNeill, Miss., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. The Christmas day storms downed both telephone and electric power lines and poles throughout the state in addition to extensive private property damage.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)A Coast Electric Power Association lineman grounds a line on a replacement pole in McNeill, Miss., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. The Christmas day storms downed both telephone and electric power lines and poles throughout the state in addition to extensive private property damage. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
  • A storm-ravaged store and debris sit in Monticello, Miss. on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012.  More than 25 people were injured and at least 70 homes were damaged in Mississippi by the severe storms that pushed across the South on Christmas Day, authorities said Wednesday. (AP Photo/The Enterprise-Journal, Philip Hall)A storm-ravaged store and debris sit in Monticello, Miss. on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. More than 25 people were injured and at least 70 homes were damaged in Mississippi by the severe storms that pushed across the South on Christmas Day, authorities said Wednesday. (AP Photo/The Enterprise-Journal, Philip Hall)
  • Murphy High School athletic custodian Mike Gill, left, and maintenance man Stewart Lynch, right, asses the damage caused to the school by a Christmas Day tornado as residents clean up at first light Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012  in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)Murphy High School athletic custodian Mike Gill, left, and maintenance man Stewart Lynch, right, asses the damage caused to the school by a Christmas Day tornado as residents clean up at first light Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)
  • Tim Clarke, in black jacket, carries antiques from the the damaged home of family friend Anne Zieman (not pictured) as residents clean up and assess the damage from a Christmas Day tornado Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012  in Mobile, Ala.  (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)Tim Clarke, in black jacket, carries antiques from the the damaged home of family friend Anne Zieman (not pictured) as residents clean up and assess the damage from a Christmas Day tornado Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)
  • Murphy High School teacher Leland Howard tries to salvage items where his algebra classroom once stood in a temporary building at Murphy High School as residents clean up and assess the damage from a Christmas Day tornado Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012  in Mobile, Ala.  (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)Murphy High School teacher Leland Howard tries to salvage items where his algebra classroom once stood in a temporary building at Murphy High School as residents clean up and assess the damage from a Christmas Day tornado Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)
  • This Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 photo shows a damaged hall at Trinity Episcopal Church as residents clean up and assess the damage from a Christmas Day tornado in Mobile, Ala.  (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)This Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 photo shows a damaged hall at Trinity Episcopal Church as residents clean up and assess the damage from a Christmas Day tornado in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/G.M. Andrews)
  • Semler Street resident Mack Robinson checks on his tornado damaged home Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, in Prichard, Ala. Robinson's wife, Mary, was home when the tornado hit. "Nobody got hurt, except my feelings," Robinson said. (AP Photo/AL.com, Mike Kittrell)  MAGS OUTSemler Street resident Mack Robinson checks on his tornado damaged home Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, in Prichard, Ala. Robinson's wife, Mary, was home when the tornado hit. "Nobody got hurt, except my feelings," Robinson said. (AP Photo/AL.com, Mike Kittrell) MAGS OUT
  • Utility crews work to restore powe in Mobile, Ala., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, after a tornado swept through the area on Christmas Day. With only a handful of injuries and no deaths reported statewide from the storms, the head of the state's emergency response said it was difficult to fathom how the toll wasn't worse. (AP Photo/AL.com, Mike Kittrell)  Utility crews work to restore powe in Mobile, Ala., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, after a tornado swept through the area on Christmas Day. With only a handful of injuries and no deaths reported statewide from the storms, the head of the state's emergency response said it was difficult to fathom how the toll wasn't worse. (AP Photo/AL.com, Mike Kittrell)
Story Topics
Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

A powerful winter storm system that pounded the nation’s midsection is headed toward the Northeast, wrecking travel plans and knocking out power to thousands of homes.

At least six deaths are being blamed on the storm, which spawned Gulf Coast region tornadoes on Christmas Day and a historic amount of snow in Arkansas before pushing through the Upper Ohio Valley and heading toward the Northeast on Wednesday.

The aviation-tracking website FlightAware.com said that more than 1,400 flights had been canceled. The New York City area’s three major airports were experiencing hourlong delays.

Scores of motorists got stuck on icy roads or slid into drifts, and blizzard warnings were issued amid snowy gusts of 30 mph that blanketed roads and windshields, at times causing whiteout conditions.

“The way I’ve been describing it is as a low-end blizzard, but that’s sort of like saying a small Tyrannosaurus rex,” said John Kwiatkowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.

Forecasts called for 12 to 18 inches of snow inland from western New York to Maine starting late Wednesday and into Thursday and tapering off into a mix of rain and snow closer to the coast, where little accumulation was expected in such cities as New York and Boston.

The storm left freezing temperatures in its aftermath, and forecasters also said parts of the Southeast from Virginia to Florida would see severe thunderstorms.

Schools on break and workers taking holiday vacations meant that many people could avoid messy commutes, but those who had to travel were implored to avoid it. Snow was blamed for scores of vehicle accidents as far east as Maryland, and about two dozen counties in Indiana and Ohio issued snow emergency travel alerts, urging people to go out on the roads only if necessary.

Some 40 vehicles got bogged down trying to make it up a slick hill in central Indiana, and four state snowplows slid off roads as snow fell at the rate of 3 inches an hour in some places.

Two passengers in a car on a sleet-slickened Arkansas highway were killed Wednesday in a head-on collision, and two people, including a 76-year-old Milwaukee woman, were killed Tuesday on Oklahoma highways. Deaths from wind-toppled trees were reported in Texas and Louisiana.

The day after a holiday wasn’t expected to be particularly busy for AAA, but its Cincinnati-area branch had its busiest Wednesday of the year. By midafternoon, nearly 400 members had been helped with tows, jump-starts and other aid, with calls still coming in, spokesman Mike Mills said.

Jennifer Miller, 58, was taking a bus Wednesday from Cincinnati to visit family in Columbus, Ohio.

“I wish this had come yesterday and was gone today,” she said, struggling with a rolling suitcase and three smaller bags on a slushy sidewalk near the station. “I’m glad I don’t have to drive in this.”

As usual, winter-sports enthusiasts welcomed the snow. At Smiling Hill Farm in Maine, Warren Knight was hoping for enough snow to allow the opening of trails.

“We watch the weather more carefully for cross-country skiing than we do for farming. And we’re pretty diligent about farming,” he said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks