Winter Storms Batter Large Swaths of U.S.


Large portions of the United States were contending with heavy snow, high winds and rain Friday, snarling air and ground transportation during a busy holiday travel period. 

From the north central plains to the southwest, eight to 12 inches of snow has fallen in some areas or is forecast to fall in the coming days -- ruining New Year travel plans for thousands of Americans. 

Meanwhile, southern regions were bracing for potential flooding from heavy rain.  

More than 6,500 flights were delayed and some 800 more were canceled on Thursday alone, as blizzard conditions made travel treacherous, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware. 

Scores of roads were closed in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa. 

There were nearly 400 flight cancellations and more than 2,100 delays Friday morning, and growing, as the nation's air travel system struggled to recover.

Some airline passengers reported being stranded for days.

"I didn't want to spend three days in the airport, missing out on the holidays -- New Year's and all that," Anthony Scott told Texas television station KDFW Dallas-Forth Worth International. 

"I have to go back to work the first of the year. So this is my time. This was my little vacation. I'm not trying to spend it in the airport."

Ground crews worked to clear roads in affected states, but many remained packed with snow and ice. 

The South Dakota Department of Transportation said there were many no-travel advisories that remained in effect Friday. 

"Roads are icy, blowing snow is still limiting visibility. Crews are working but mother nature is making safe travel tough this morning," the agency said. 

North Dakota on Friday lifted a no-travel advisory that had been issued for the entire east side of the state Thursday, even as drifting snow continued to frustrate drivers. 

National Weather Service (NWS) officials in Minnesota cautioned that road conditions in the upper Midwestern state were still deteriorating. 

"All roads in southwest, western, central, and northeast (Minnesota) are covered with snow," the agency said. 

The weather service predicted the misery would continue through the weekend. 

Heavy snow was expected in the southwestern state of New Mexico from a new storm. As much as 18 inches was possible, NWS said. 

To the south, heavy rains were forecast in the central Gulf Coast and stretching east to the mid-Atlantic. 

A risk of flash flooding was possible in a few areas. 

A colossal blizzard smothered the eastern United States in January 2016, shutting down New York and Washington, leaving 15 people dead and affecting some 85 million residents.

Forecasters said the storm -- dubbed "Snowzilla" -- dumped 22.2 inches in Washington and 25.1 inches in New York's Central Park, the third highest accumulation since records began in 1869.

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