Holiday Travelers Brace for Foul, Wet Weather
Holiday travelers are bracing for nasty travel weather throughout much of the nation over the weekend, as a winter storm brings everything from rain to ice to snow.
The worst of the storm is expected to hit Midwest population centers on Saturday, as the storm lifts north and east.
Forecasters were predicting everything from freezing rain and snow in the north to torrential rain in the Ohio Valley and Appalachia and possibly even tornadoes in the South.
The foul weather could cause headaches for the estimated 94.5 million Americans planning to travel by road or air during this holiday season.
Weather forecasters say rain is expected to turn to snow in some parts of the upper Midwest on Sunday, with 6-8 inches of accumulation in some areas.
Icy weather snarled traffic in Oklahoma on Friday. Police in Oklahoma City blamed at least one traffic death on the weather. Forecasters said up to a half-inch of ice could accumulate across the middle of the state, from the Texas border in the southwest to the Missouri border in the northeast.
In Wisconsin and Michigan, slippery roads from freezing rain forced some schools to cancel classes. A woman sleeping in a hotel in Holland in western Michigan was injured when a motorist lost control of his car on an icy street early Friday and slammed into the wall outside her room, MLive.com reported.
In New England, communities were planning for a bit of everything — snow, sleet and rain — but were most concerned about the threat of freezing rain.
The National Weather Service predicted that parts of Maine could get more than a half-inch coating of ice, which would make roads treacherous and cause widespread power outages.
"The best advice for everyone is just to really pay attention. With every few hours, we're going to get better information," Maine Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lynnette Miller said Friday.
An ice storm warning was issued until 6 a.m. Sunday by the National Weather Service for central and southwestern Oklahoma and until 6 p.m. Saturday for the northeastern portion of the state.
The weather service issued a flash flood watch from Arkansas northeastward through parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, with up to 4 inches of rain projected. With falling temperatures, some of that could be freezing rain by Saturday night in the St. Louis area, weather service meteorologist Jon Carney said.
In Indiana, the National Weather Service posted flood warnings along southern and central Indiana streams and predicted the highest flood crests along the East Fork of the White River since April 2011.
While the Midwest and Plains were preparing for ice and snow, residents down South were concerned about tornadoes, which forecasters said were possible this weekend even though they are uncommon this time of year. The area most threatened stretched from central and northeastern Texas through Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and southeast Missouri, where 80 mph wind gusts and flash flooding were possible.