Weather outside is frightful

7 dead from storm system moving east across U.S.

NEW YORK | December 27, 2012


A storm system moving across the United States has been blamed for at least seven deaths, bringing blizzard conditions, blackouts and travel delays.

The weather outside was expected to be frightful in some areas Thursday as the storm chugged across the northeastern United States after unleashing heavy snow, sharp winds and tornadoes in the Midwest and South.

Thousands of travelers were stranded after flight cancellations because of the storm, airport officials told CNN. One flight tracking website indicated at least 360 flights were removed from schedules for Thursday after about 1,780 flights were canceled on Wednesday.

Forecasters said heavy snowfall is expected in several states, including upstate New York, southern New England and central Maine through Friday. Up to 2 feet of snow was possible in central Maine, forecasters said.

In Buffalo, N.Y., National Weather Service forecasters said as much as 2 inches an hour could be falling by Thursday morning, combined with 30 mph winds, The New York Times reported.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents to avoid non-essential travel.

"Winter weather has arrived for many parts of the state, so as a precaution we have opened the emergency operation center to coordinate response efforts using all state and local resources," Cuomo said. "I also urge New Yorkers to closely watch local news reports for weather updates and adjust their travel plans accordingly."

Wind caused huge delays at airports, including Philadelphia International Airport, which reported delays of at least four hours, the longest delay in the nation, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Several other airports in the northeast experienced delays of more than two hours Wednesday.

The dead include two children, who were killed in a car crash in Arkansas, law enforcement officials said.

The 9 inches that fell on Christmas Day in Little Rock, Ark., erased a Dec. 25 snowfall record that held for 86 years, CNN said. Deaths also were reported in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Ohio.

More than 25 storm-related injuries but no fatalities were reported in Mississippi, the state's emergency management office said. About 70 homes were damaged, most to the south.

As the storm pushed through the nation's midsection Wednesday, parts of Illinois had received 18 inches of snow, the National Weather Service said.

Detroit declared snow emergencies in some parts of the city, officials said, asking people to move their vehicles make room for snow plows, the Times said. The Indiana Pacers-Chicago Bulls NBA game was canceled.

In New York, slushy snow yielded to heavy rain and sustained wind of up to 35 mph overnight, NWS' Tim Morrin said. The heavy rain could lead to flooding in areas with poor drainage, he said. A coastal flood warning was in effect during high tides Wednesday and early Thursday "along the Battery, Bergen Point, the mouth of the Hudson and portions of the western Long Island Sound," he added.

More than 200,000 people remained without power on Wednesday, officials said.

The Times said 34 tornadoes were reported from Texas to Mississippi Tuesday.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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