Winter storm "Draco" continues to wreak havoc with heavy snow and winds


Winter storm 'Draco' wreaks havoc across U.S. with 5,200 flights delayed and heavy snow stranding millions trying to get home for Christmas
131 flights cancelled today and 5,843 delayed across the U.S.National Weather Service issues winter storm warnings for Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Ohio as well as parts of Northern California and Oregon
Delays of an hour or more were reported at Newark Liberty International
Airport in New Jersey and La Guardia Airport in New YorkAt least four people dead in
treacherous driving conditionsThree people killed in 25-vehicle pileup in Iowa after drivers were blinded by snow

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 22 December 2012

Powerful winds and snow whipped parts of the eastern United States on Saturday, carrying the promise of a white Christmas while threatening to cause havoc for the many Americans traveling for the holidays.

The storm moving in from the Midwest was sending strong winds into the mid-Atlantic states and southern New England and buried parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin in more than a foot of snow earlier this week. Several inches of snow fell on Saturday in parts of western Pennsylvania.

/12/22/article-0-169D418C000005DC-821_964x645.jpg” width=”964″ height=”645″ alt=”Cancelled: Travelers line up for ticketing at O'Hare airport in Chicago on Friday” class=”blkBorder” />

Cancelled: Travelers line up for ticketing at O'Hare airport in Chicago on Friday

Travel chaos: Travelers walk in front of an United Airline flight information screen at O'Hare airport in Chicago, where hundreds of flights were canceled

Travel chaos: Travelers walk in front of an United Airline flight information screen at O'Hare airport in Chicago, where hundreds of flights were canceled

Danger: A motorist in a pickup truck pulls a tree out of the way about five miles East of Mapleton, Oregon, as heavy snow in the Oregon Coast Range caused trees to fall across Highway 126

Danger: A motorist in a pickup truck pulls a tree out of the way about five miles East of Mapleton, Oregon, as heavy snow in the Oregon Coast Range caused trees to fall across Highway 126

Buried: Luke McHenry, left, his son, Sebastian Wells, dig out their snow-buried vehicle as residents in Madison, Wisconsin

Buried: Luke McHenry, left, his son, Sebastian Wells, dig out their snow-buried vehicle as residents in Madison, Wisconsin

More than 87 million Americans are
expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home over the holidays,
the travel and auto groups AAA has forecast. Nearly nine out of 10 will
be on the roads, it said.

On Saturday, high winds and gusts
were predicted in the New York City metropolitan area, eastern
Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said
as it issued winter storm warnings in many of those areas as well as parts of
Northern California and Oregon.

The service urged people to be careful of snow covered road and very poor visibility that would make driving hazardous.

It predicted dangerous conditions due
to winds for upstate New York, northwestern Connecticut, southern
Vermont and western Massachusetts.

A new storm could bring snow to the
central Appalachians, northern mid-Atlantic and southern New England on
Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, Accuweather.com said.

Disaster: Two died and several more were injured in the massive 25 vehicle pile-up in Iowa caused by dangerous weather conditions

Disaster: Two died and several more were injured in the massive 25 vehicle pile-up in Iowa caused by dangerous weather conditions

Ready to roll: Snow plows line up at O'Hare airport in Chicago in preparation for bad weather

Ready to roll: Snow plows line up at O'Hare airport in Chicago in preparation for bad weather

Christmas cheer: Silas Dillman, six, right, and his eight-year-old brother Joel ride a sled down the driveway of their grandparents house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Christmas cheer: Silas Dillman, six, right, and his eight-year-old brother Joel ride a sled down the driveway of their grandparents house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

'It could be a white Christmas after
all in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, New England and other areas
across the nation,' said Alex Sosnowski, Accuweather senior
meteorologist.

Snow could accumulate from Harrisburg
and Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Hartford, Connecticut, and Boston, he
said. New York City is likely to see a mix of snow and rain, he said.

Wintry air blowing off the eastern
Great Lakes on Saturday was causing icy conditions in western and
northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and West Virginia, Accuweather
said.

Two to 5 inches of snow were expected in Buffalo.

A larger storm threatens to bring more snow to the eastern states in the days after Christmas, meteorologists said.

On Friday, nearly 900 flights were canceled and 13,500 delayed across the country, flightstats reported.

Snow: Brad Johnson pushes the heavy snow off the sidewalk in downtown Burlington, Iowa

Snow: Brad Johnson pushes the heavy snow off the sidewalk in downtown Burlington, Iowa

Adventure: A snowboarder, silhouetted by the setting sun, kicks up a wake of snowy mist, at Winter Park alpine resort, in Colorado

Adventure: A snowboarder, silhouetted by the setting sun, kicks up a wake of snowy mist, at Winter Park alpine resort, in Colorado

Push: A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students assist a food delivery truck driver in freeing his truck after getting stuck in the snow

Push: A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students assist a food delivery truck driver in freeing his truck after getting stuck in the snow

Clearing the driveway: A local resident clears snow from his driveway after an overnight snowfall left many schools and businesses closed for the day in Urbandale, Iowa

Clearing the driveway: A local resident clears snow from his driveway after an overnight snowfall left many schools and businesses closed for the day in Urbandale, Iowa

Let it snow! A snow fight rages among University of Wisconsin-Madison students on Bascom Hill, Madison

Let it snow! A snow fight rages among University of Wisconsin-Madison students on Bascom Hill, Madison

Weather.com said Draco was likely to
linger over northern New England through the weekend, resulting in the
continuation of both strong, gusty winds and snow.

The website's meteorologists added that gusts could reach 40
or 50mph during the afternoon, which may result in airport delays from
New York City to Washington D.C. and power outages couldn't be ruled out
either.

The storm began in the Rockies
earlier in the week and has been blamed for deaths in at least five
states, with parts of Iowa and Wisconsin hit with more than a foot of
snow.

While some people went to work on
digging themselves out even as the storm continued, others had
less control as they waited for word of new flight times.

Most of Friday's canceled flights were in
Chicago, where more than 350 flights have been called off at O'Hare
International Airport and more than 150 at Midway International Airport.

Storm brewing: The satellite image shows a strong frontal system over the Great Lakes region with snow for much of the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes regions and heavy rain showers for the east coast

Storm brewing: The satellite image shows a strong frontal system over the Great Lakes region with snow for much of the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes regions and heavy rain showers for the east coast

Flurries: A satellite image of snowfall across the U.S. Pacific Northwest, stretching from the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding region, from Idaho to Arizona and from California to Colorado

Flurries: A satellite image of snowfall across the U.S. Pacific Northwest, stretching from the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding region, from Idaho to Arizona and from California to Colorado

Stuck: Donald Pettit and Kimberlee Taylor (R, front) help push the car as Hailey Pettit pumps the gas in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Stuck: Donald Pettit and Kimberlee Taylor (R, front) help push the car as Hailey Pettit pumps the gas in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Pretty: Snow-covered cars in a parking lot greet early morning risers in Madison, Wisconsin, on Thursday as the severe winter storm moves through the upper Midwest

On the move: Snow-covered cars in a parking lot greet early morning risers in Madison, Wisconsin, on Thursday as the severe winter storm moves through the upper Midwest

Southwest Airlines, which canceled
all of its flights out of its Midway hub after 4.30pm on Thursday, got things moving again in Chicago on Friday.

United Airlines also planned to
operate a full schedule, though officials for both airlines cautioned
travelers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.

The storm made travel difficult from
Kansas to Wisconsin on Friday, forcing road closures, including a 120-mile stretch
of Interstate 35 from Ames, Iowa, through Albert Lea, Minnesota.

Iowa and Wisconsin activated National Guard troops to help rescue stranded drivers. In Iowa, two people were killed and seven injured in a 25-vehicle pile-up.

Drivers were blinded by blowing snow
and didn't see vehicles that had slowed or stopped on Interstate 35
about 60 miles north of Des Moines, state police said. A chain reaction
of crashes involving semitrailers and passenger cars closed down a
section of the highway.

Three other states also had traffic
deaths that were blamed on the storm. There were at least two deaths in
each Nebraska and Wisconsin, and one in Kansas.

Weather: Today's forecast shows dubious weather continuing in parts of the east coast and the west

Weather: Today's forecast shows dubious weather continuing in parts of the east coast and the west

Improving: /12/22/article-2252180-16A00766000005DC-359_964x648.jpg

Monday: Some of the cities on the east coast can look forward to a white Christmas

In southeastern Utah, a woman who tried
to walk for help after her car became stuck in snow died on Tuesday
night. Search and rescue crews on snowmobiles found her buried in the
snow just
a few miles from her car.

On the southern edge of the storm
system, tornadoes destroyed several homes in Arkansas and peeled the
roofs from buildings, toppled trucks and blew down oak trees and limbs
in Alabama.

The flight cancellations were getting
a lot of attention because the storm came just a few days before
Christmas. But Daniel Baker, CEO of flight tracking service
FlightAware.com, called it 'a relatively minor event in the overall
scheme of things'.

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Pretty but dangerous: The crimson red sky is pictured through snow-covered foliage in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency

Heavy snow: A snow plow makes its way on a county road in Waupun, Wisconsin, where up to 16 inches of snow are expected

Heavy snow: A snow plow makes its way on a county road in Waupun, Wisconsin, where up to 16 inches of snow are expected

Chilly: Covered in steadily falling snow, Colman Devine makes his way home from an overnight work shift in Madison, Wisconsin

Chilly: Covered in steadily falling snow, Colman Devine makes his way home from an overnight work shift in Madison, Wisconsin

Slow traffic: Traffic moves slowly on an interstate highway in Brownsville, Wisconsin, on Thursday

Slow traffic: Traffic moves slowly on an interstate highway in Brownsville, Wisconsin, on Thursday

Snowstorm: Elementary school students, some escorted by parents, cross a snowy street en route to school as a blizzard dropped snow over Boulder, Colorado

Snowstorm: Elementary school students, some escorted by parents, cross a snowy street en route to school as a blizzard dropped snow over Boulder, Colorado

White Christmas: Don Hunter, pictured, shovels snow outside of Gerda's German Restaurant in Omaha Nebraska on Wednesday

White Christmas: Don Hunter, pictured, shovels snow outside of Gerda's German Restaurant in Omaha Nebraska on Wednesday

While snow pulled down most power lines in
Iowa, others were felled by big gusts, said Justin Foss, a spokesman for
Alliant Energy, which had at least 13,000 customers without power in central
Iowa.

'The roads have been
so bad our crews have not been able to respond to them,' Foss said. 'We
have giant four-wheel-drive trucks with chains on them so when we can't
get there it's pretty rough.'

Utilities
reported more than 33,000 customers had lost power in the Des Moines
area, more than 36,000 outages in eastern Nebraska and more than 41,000
without power in Arkansas, where thunderstorms took out lines. Smaller
outages were reported in Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and
Louisiana.

Meteorologist Scott Dergan said the snow cover would drag temperatures much lower in Nebraska and Iowa.

'We're talking single digits,' Mr Dergan said. 'We may even see some sub-zero temperatures in Nebraska.

'This cold weather will stick around
for several days, maybe until the day after Christmas. So we're
definitely going to have a white Christmas.'

Blizzard: A plow makes its way along a road in Waupun, Wisconsin on Thursday

Blizzard: A plow makes its way along a road in Waupun, Wisconsin on Thursday

Amish fun: Amish school children play in snow in Kingston, Wisconsin

Amish fun: Amish school children play in snow in Kingston, Wisconsin

A bit chilly: A cow's black fur is dusted with snow on a ranch in Superior, Colorado after the snowstorm

A bit chilly: A cow's black fur is dusted with snow on a ranch in Superior, Colorado after the snowstorm

Rug up: Linda Jones walks her daughters Sophie and Zoe to school as a blizzard dropped snow over Boulder, Colorado

Rug up: Linda Jones walks her daughters Sophie and Zoe to school as a blizzard dropped snow over Boulder, Colorado

Tractor: A man uses a tractor to clear snow in Waupun, Wisconsin on Thursday

Tractor: A man uses a tractor to clear snow in Waupun, Wisconsin on Thursday

Forecasters
said the heaviest snow could be expected across a swath extending from
northwestern Missouri into Milwaukee, Chicago and Michigan, with
predictions of as much as a foot of snow in some areas.

Before the storm, several cities in the Midwest had broken records for the number of consecutive days without measurable snow.

The
weather service warned of poor visibility due to driving snow in much
of the region and warned drivers to stay off roads in some areas.

Transportation officials shut down parts of Interstate 29 in Missouri
early on Thursday, and Interstate 80 in Nebraska remained closed due to
blowing snow.

'Just north of Interstate 80 is where the heaviest band of snow set up,' Dergan said.

'We're just seeing a few flurries
this morning, but because of the wind, travel is pretty treacherous,
especially into Iowa, as the storm moves east.'

In southeastern Wisconsin, where a
blizzard warning was in effect and winds of up to 45 mph were expected
to create whiteout conditions, sheriff's officials said slick conditions
led to at least two fatalities late on Wednesday when a driver lost
control of his car in Rock County, about 90 miles northwest of Chicago.

Travel woes: A flight information screen displays canceled flights as passenger walk at Midway airport in Chicago, Thursday as the first widespread snowstorm of the season crawled across the Midwest

Travel woes: A flight information screen displays canceled flights as passenger walk at Midway airport in Chicago, Thursday as the first widespread snowstorm of the season crawled across the Midwest

Chicago commuters awoke on Thursday to
heavy fog and cold, driving rain, and forecasters said snow would hit
the Midwestern metropolis by mid-afternoon.

Most of the canceled flights were at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway international airports. Aviation officials said Thursday night more than 350 flights had been canceled at O'Hare and more than 150 at Midway. Many people at O'Hare were taking the cancellations in stride and the normally busy airport was much quieter than normal Thursday evening.

Southwest Airlines canceled all of its flights at its Midway hub that were scheduled for after 4.30pm, and American Airlines said it was shutting down its O'Hare operations after 8pm.

There also were delays, most
involving smaller regional planes that have more flight restrictions,
spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said.

'We
are trying to delay as much as we can, instead of canceling, because we
know that we have many customers who are trying to make their holiday
travel plans,' Huguely said.

Disruptions: Southwest Airlines scratched all of its flights scheduled after 4.30pm at Midway, while American Airlines said it was shutting down its O'Hare operations after 8pm

Disruptions: Southwest Airlines scratched all of its flights scheduled after 4.30pm at Midway, while American Airlines said it was shutting down its O'Hare operations after 8pm

Christmas spirit: Christmas lights hang from a tree and a fence dusted with new snow, as the pre-dawn sky glows blue, in Boulder, Colorado

Christmas spirit: Christmas lights hang from a tree and a fence dusted with new snow, as the pre-dawn sky glows blue, in Boulder, Colorado

Snow covered cars: Omaha residents clean their vehicles of snow before leaving on their drive home on Wednesday

Snow covered cars: Omaha residents clean their vehicles of snow before leaving on their drive home on Wednesday

Hundreds of schools across the affected region canceled classes at the end of the week because of heavy overnight snow. Kansas City Power & Light reported about 16,000 scattered power outages in northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas.

The moisture was welcome to farmers in the drought-parched region, but Meteorologist Kris Sanders said the storm wouldn't make much of a dent. In Kansas, for example, some areas are more than 12 inches below normal precipitation for the year.

'It's not going to have a big effect, maybe only a half-inch of liquid precipitation. It's not helping us out much,' Sanders said.

Sanders said another storm similar to the current one could bring additional snow on Christmas or the day after.

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