Blizzard warnings across Midwest; floods in South | News Coverage from USA

Blizzard warnings across Midwest; floods in South

More wild weather is forecast for Friday across the nation: an ongoing blizzard in the north-central U.S. and flooding rains in the Southeast.

In the central U.S. on Thursday, the storm system that forced a cancellation of a college football game in Texas because of unrelenting lightning on Wednesday drove blizzard conditions through parts of the north-central U.S. and threatened travel chaos from Minnesota to Kansas and as far east as New England.

Two storm-related deaths were reported on Thursday, one in Kansas and another in Louisiana.

Blizzard warnings remained in effect for parts of Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota as of late Thursday. Many areas braced for over a foot of snow. Sustained winds of 15-30 mph with gusts 35 to 50 mph were anticipated in parts of the region.

“We’re seeing reports of whiteout conditions, very poor travel conditions,” AccuWeather meteorologist MIke Doll told USA TODAY. “Winds will remain gusty, so we will see blowing and drifting even after the flakes stop falling tonight.”

Already, 18 inches of snow was reported in Finland, Minnesota, the highest total so far, according to the National Weather Service.

Although the Weather Channel has named the storm Winter Storm Eboni, no other private weather group, or the federal government, uses that name.

In Kansas, Gov. Jeff Colyer declared a state of emergency. Colyer urged travelers to pay attention to weather alerts and avoid “placing themselves in harm’s way as the storm moves through.”

Via Twitter, the Kansas Highway Patrol reported a weather-related death on Interstate 70 near Oakley. Travel will continue to be hazardous with slick snow-covered roads, especially in areas where blizzard warnings are in effect, the weather service warned. 

Melissa Goatley learned that firsthand while visiting her parents in Aitkin, Minnesota. At about 7 p.m. CT Thursday, Goatley said about eight inches had fallen and the family had made three trips outside to shovel. About five more inches were expected.

It was her father’s attempt to use his car to pack the snow down on his gravel driveway that got dramatic, however. 

The thick, wet snow sent her father’s car sliding into a small pole marker at the end of the driveway and the family needed to use a chainsaw to cut it to get his car free. A neighbor with a truck, a snow plow and the sheriff all stopped to help and even the sheriff went flying backwards into a snow drift in the process. 

After a trip to a restaurant earlier in the day, Goatley now says, “We’re pretty much staying inside until they get it all plowed.” 

Temperatures were forecast to plunge as the storm moves across the area. Actual temperatures will fall into the 20s, teens and single digits in some areas. Because of the wind, the temperatures will feel like below zero, AccuWeather said.

A narrow swath of wintry mix that includes sleet and freezing rain was forecast from parts of central and northern Kansas to southeastern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and northern Michigan, AccuWeather said.

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Several communities in this zone may be hit with enough freezing rain to cause tree limbs to collapse and regional power outages to occur, AccuWeather said.

The South wasn’t being entirely spared. Lightning and the threat of severe weather forced cancellation of the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on Wednesday night.

In the Southeast, as of late Thursday, almost 50 million people were under flood watches. The weather service said that widespread rainfall, locally heavy at times, will continue spread north and eastward from the Lower Mississippi Valley/Southeast into the Mid-Atlantic. Flooding and flash flooding will be a threat throughout Friday.

Severe thunderstorms that could spawn tornadoes were also forecast in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and western Tennessee late Thursday. Storms were also possible for parts of Iowa, western Illinois and northern Missouri.

A Louisiana woman was killed late Wednesday when a tree fell through her camper in the town of Ponchatoula.

“The full spectrum of severe weather is anticipated with these storms,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. “Everything from frequent lightning strikes to flooding downpours, hail, strong wind gusts and isolated tornadoes may occur with this setup into Thursday night.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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