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1st-4th…A potent storm system that spawned tornadoes in the South reached the Northeast on Wednesday, where it knocked out power to thousands, closed the Statue of Liberty and delayed flights for hours. At least three people were killed. Sandbags were handed out in Washington, D.C., to protect homes from flooding. Thousands were without electricity in the mid-Atlantic region and New York, and some schools delayed openings. The storms had moved into New England by early evening. In Connecticut, the storm toppled trees and flooded streets near the shore. More than 20,000 customers lost power, according to Connecticut Light & Power.
Truck driver John Helwig, 59, said it was so windy as he passed through Bridgeport that traffic was only moving 40-50 mph on the open highway.
"It was pretty bad; the truck's rocking back and forth," he said at a gas station in Milford. In New York, gusts of winds that snapped a huge, lighted Christmas tree at the South Street Seaport also prompted the closure of the Statue of Liberty. Flight delays of up to five hours were reported at LaGuardia Airport. Commuter rail service between Newark, NJ, and New York City was briefly suspended due to overhead wire damage, New Jersey Transit said. It wasn't immediately clear whether the storm was responsible for the damage. The rain was causing some discomfort in the city, where broken umbrellas peeked out from trash cans and many pedestrians were soaked. "I'm about 45 percent drenched," said Charles Hendricks, 33, passing out fliers in front of a Manhattan store. "My arms, my legs, my hat. But I still prefer a wet day over a cold day, especially in December." In New Jersey, a man was killed and his wife injured when a tree toppled and struck their car, West Milford police said. Thousands in New Jersey were without power, as well as in upstate New York, where blowing snow caused treacherous driving conditions.
Hundreds of miles to the south, residents in Buford, Ga., were cleaning up after a tornado with winds as high as 130 mph whipped through Tuesday, damaging more than 50 homes, the National Weather Service said. No injuries were reported there. As the storm hit, Tami O'Connor walked into her living room to tell her two children to go to the basement, and the room imploded, she said. No one was hurt, and though half of the room was sucked into her backyard, some of it was left intact. "The baby Jesus is still on the mantel," she said. About 30 miles away, in an unincorporated area of suburban Atlanta, 54-year-old Matthew Mitchell died after a tree fell on the car he was driving Tuesday. Police believe strong wind gusts blew the tree over. At least two tornadoes touched down in South Carolina on Tuesday, the National Weather service said. A tornado also hit Georgia on Tuesday and authorities were investigating whether one touched down in Louisiana on Monday. In Tennessee, a rock slide followed 2 inches of rain, blocking part of a highway between Knoxville and its airport. Flooding closed roads in the Carolinas, which got up to 6 inches of rain in some areas. In Greenville County, S.C., 50-year-old Rita Hunter of Travelers Rest was killed Tuesday when she lost control of her car on a wet roadway and struck a tree. Earlier, the storm brought suspected tornadoes to Louisiana and Mississippi, where more than a dozen people were injured. In Yazoo City, MS, which was hit months ago by a severe tornado, 63-year-old Clarence Taylor said the town again looked like a war zone. The winds blew off a tarp he had put on his roof to cover damage from the April storm. "This is the second time it dropped down on this street in just six months," Taylor said. "I've been through it, man."
5th-11th…Multiple weather features brought active weather to the U.S. on Monday. A low pressure system hovered over southeastern Canada and allowed for precipitation to persist over the Northeastern and Great Lakes. Flow around this system pulled cold air over the Great Lakes, which picked up moisture, and created lake effect snow showers. Heaviest snow was reported along the eastern shores of the Great Lakes, with mid-day snow accumulations between 3-5 inches across northeastern New York, northern Ohio, northeastern Pennsylvania, and northern Michigan. In the west, a low pressure system spinning in the Pacific Ocean created another strong cold front that hovered just offshore of northern California. This system pushed cloudy skies over most of the Pacific Northwest and northern California, with a few scattered rain showers along the coasts. Rainfall totals remained less than a half of an inch in most areas. More significant precipitation developed at higher elevations, as a trough of low pressure extended eastward from this system and moved over the Intermountain West. In the Sierras, 6 to 12 inches of heavy wet snow fell along the crests, with lesser amounts below 7,000 feet. Idaho and Utah reported snowfall totals between 1-3 inches, water equivalents between 0.20 and 0.30 inches.
Meanwhile, a mix of rain and mountain snow, heavy at times, continued in eastern Washington on Wednesday in the wake of a front that passed by the region this morning. The Cascades remained under Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisory during the afternoon. In the East, more lake effect snow developed downwind of the Great Lakes as cold northwest winds continued to flow across the warm lake bodies of the region. Intense lake effect snow bands provided additional moderate to significant snow accumulations to portions of northwest lower and eastern upper Michigan. Meanwhile, an additional two to three inches of lake effect snow were expected to fall near areas of Buffalo, New York by the evening commute.
12th-18th…A powerful, gusty storm dumped mounds of snow across the upper Midwest on Sunday, closing major highways in several states, canceling more than 1,600 flights in Chicago and collapsing the roof of the Minnesota Vikings' stadium. At least four weather-related deaths were reported as the storm system dropped nearly 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and marched east. A blizzard warning was in effect Sunday for parts of eastern Iowa, southeastern Wisconsin, northwestern Illinois and northern Michigan, according to the National Weather Service. Surrounding areas, including Chicago, were under winter storm warnings. Much of Iowa was under a wind-chill advisory. In Minneapolis, the heavy snow left the Metrodome decidedly unready for some football. Video inside the stadium aired by Fox Sports showed the inflatable Teflon roof sagging before it tore open, dumping massive amounts of snow across one end of the playing field. No one was hurt but the Vikings' game against the New York Giants had to be moved to Detroit's Ford Field. The day of the game had already been pushed back from Sunday to Monday because the storm kept the Giants from reaching Minneapolis on time. Stadium officials were trying to repair the roof in time for the Vikings' next home game, Dec. 20 against Chicago. The wintry weather, with blowing snow that severely limited visibility, wreaked havoc on air and road travel. In the Chicago area, wind gusts of up to 50 mph, temperatures in the teens and wind chills well below zero were expected, along with up to 8 inches of snow.
At least 1,375 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and more than 300 were canceled at Midway International Airport, Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride said. Both airports expected more cancellations and reported significant delays.
Officials at O'Hare set up about 200 cots and will provide amenity kits containing toothpaste and toothbrushes in case travelers get stranded at the airport, Pride said. Major highways in several states were closed due to poor driving conditions and accidents. In Indianapolis, police said a man fatally stabbed his wife, then died four blocks from his home Sunday morning when his vehicle hit a tree after he lost control on a slippery road. Police did not immediately release the names of the couple. Illinois State Police closed a section of Interstate 80 in the north central part of the state after a multiple-car pileup west of Peru and part of Interstate 55 near Springfield after accidents and reports of zero visibility. No deaths were reported. Seven vehicles crashed on Interstate 94 about 50 miles west of Milwaukee, prompting authorities to close the westbound lanes. A vehicle lost control on an ice-covered road and slammed into a tree in southeastern Wisconsin, killing 21-year-old Alejandria Abaunza of Chicago and injuring two other people inside.
Tod Pritchard of Wisconsin Emergency Management warned that Sunday afternoon would be especially difficult because temperatures were falling and at a certain point, road salt would no longer be effective. The storm had already dropped up to 18 inches of snow in parts of northern and central Wisconsin, he said, and light snow continued Sunday. Interstate 90 from Albert Lea, MN, to Exit 410 in South Dakota reopened Sunday afternoon after being closed Saturday because blowing snow reduced visibility. Minnesota state highways also reopened, although transportation officials warned that many were still snow-compacted, icy and, in numerous cases, down to a single lane. In Iowa, Interstate 29 from the state line to Sioux Falls, SD remained closed, although other portions of it and Interstate 80 reopened. AAA-Michigan said it has been a busy day for its roadside assistance crews, with 850 calls from midnight through 12:30 p.m. Sunday. "A lot of cars in ditches, spinouts, dead batteries," spokeswoman Nancy Cain said. "It's really the first big blast of winter weather statewide." Six people were injured Saturday when a van carrying 13 people hit a guardrail and overturned in Mecosta County, near Stanwood, Mich., in the north-central Lower Peninsula. Authorities said Sunday that weather played a role in the death of Douglas Munneke, 55, of St. Cloud, Minn. He died of a heart attack after collapsing while he was snow-blowing his driveway Saturday. In western Wisconsin, a 79-year-old man snow-blowing the end of his driveway was killed when a plow truck backed into him. The St. Croix County Sheriff's Department said Clifford Larson of Woodville died at the scene.
Snow also blanketed Tennessee, where up to 8 inches was expected by Monday evening. WSMV-TV in Nashville reported that the bad weather forced several communities to cancel Christmas parades planned for Sunday.
The weather was an unexpected burden for a Minnesota man who had pledged to camp out on the roof of a coffee shop to help his daughter's school raise money. Hospital executive Robert Stevens donned four layers of long underwear, heavy boots and a down coat before embarking on his quest Friday night. He had vowed not to come down until he had raised $100,000, but he reconsidered about 3 p.m. Saturday after high winds shredded his tent canopy. But Sunday morning, Stevens headed back up to brave the subzero wind-chills. He had only raised $54,000 and said if he didn't get to his goal the school would likely close. "Mother Nature won out yesterday - but I'm looking for the win today," Stevens said.
19th-25th…Wet and snowy conditions persisted in the West, while a front triggered snow over the North-Central US. A low pressure system sitting offshore of the West Coast pushes a cold front northward, up California. Flash flood warnings have been issued over most of southern California as rainfall rates ranged from 0.10 and 0.25 inches an hour, with periods of strong downpours. Santa Maria reported the heaviest rainfall with a mid-day total of 1.20 inches. Most of southern and central California saw between 0.50 and 0.90 inches of rain. This front brought more high elevation snow to the Sierras. Snow levels across the south remained between 5,000 and 5,500 feet with accumulation varying less than 6 inches. A sloppy combination of frozen rain and snow reported below that level. In the northern Sierras, snowfall levels remained at 4,500 feet, with accumulation up to 1 foot in some areas. In the Rockies, this front kicked up periods of heavy snow over the Central Rockies. Winter weather advisories have been placed over Utah and Colorado, due to periods of heavy snowfall. Some areas of Utah have seen a mid-day total of 6 inches.
More drenching rains developed across southern California Wednesday as a strong Pacific storm moved across the region with deep tropical moisture through the afternoon. This supported more numerous rain showers, possible thunderstorms, and snow showers. Persistent rain and periods of heavy precipitation kept the region under a variety of Flood and Flash Flood Advisories, Watches, and Warnings. Meanwhile, occasional heavy snowfall developed over the southern Nevada mountains and southern Sierra, promoting more Winter Weather Advisories throughout the ranges. In addition to rain and snow, strong wind developed to the west of the mountains with gusts up to 45 mph.
19th-25th…A powerful East Coast blizzard menaced would-be travelers by air, rail and highway Monday, leaving thousands without a way to get home after the holidays and shutting down major airports and rail lines for a second day. Officials urged anyone who did not have to drive to stay off roads in the region, where high winds pushed snow into deep drifts across
streets, railroads and runways. More than two feet of snow had fallen in
some areas by Monday morning. In Monmouth County, NJ, state troopers carried water and food to diabetics marooned on two passenger buses carrying about 50 people on the Garden State Parkway, where stranded cars cluttering ramps stymied snow plows and ambulances, state police spokesman Steve Jones told NBC's "Today" show. One bus was freed by 7 a.m. and the other was expected to be out soon, he said. "Most of the people are pretty calm, but they are getting antsy," said New Jersey State Police Trooper Chris Menello, who along with his fellow troopers raided their personal stash of food to bring to the passengers. Menello said the traffic jam started around 5 p.m. Sunday evening with a
woman who went into labor. "She and her husband had three small children in the car all under the age of 5," he said. An ambulance was able to reach her and bring her to a nearby hospital, but by then the Parkway became a parking lot, with accumulating snow preventing people from digging out. In New York City, hundreds of passengers were stranded at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman Steve Coleman said they were being
provided blankets and cots. Hundreds of travelers dozed Monday in Long Island Rail Road train cars frozen at the platform. Others lay like refugees at the entrance to the train link to Kennedy Airport and stood helpless at the ticket office, waiting in vain for good news to flash on the schedule screens. Hours went by without a single train leaving with passengers. Buses were knocked out as well, cabs were little more than a myth and those who tried walking out of the station were assailed with a hard, frigid wind that made snowflakes sting like needles. "They tried, but they can't do much with this snow. It's just not stopping," said Sharray Jones, 20, headed home to Long Island after visiting friends.
A blizzard warning, which is issued when snow is accompanied by sustained winds or gusts over 35 mph for three hours, was in effect early Monday from Delaware to the far northern tip of Maine. The storm was expected to bring its heaviest snowfall in the pre-dawn hours Monday, sometimes dumping 2 to 4 inches an hour. A total of 12 to 16 inches was expected across nearly all of Rhode Island, Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts, though forecasters said winds of 50 mph could create much deeper snow drifts. Almost 30 inches of snow fell in Bergen County, N.J., by Monday morning, and 20 inches was reported in New York City's Central Park early Monday. States of emergency were declared in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts, where Gov. Deval Patrick urged people who did not have to be on the roads to stay home, to ensure their safety and that of work crews. Nonessential state workers were told to stay home Monday. The Manchester Boston Regional Airport outside Manchester, N.H., was near-deserted Monday morning. The Long Island Rail Road, the nation's largest commuter rail system, also suspended service. Bus companies canceled routes up and down the East Coast, and drivers faced hazardous travel conditions – sometimes with close to zero visibility. A spokesman said Boston's Logan International Airport could take days to get back to normal. Wind gusts of up to 80 mph knocked out power to thousands. Utilities reported about 30,000 customers were out in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, mostly on Cape Cod and south of Boston. The monster storm is the result of a low pressure system off the North
Carolina coast and strengthened as it moved northeast, the National
Weather Service said. Because of it, parts of the South had their first white Christmas since records have been kept.
26th-31st…A major winter storm hit much of the West with significant precipitation and strong winds Wednesday. After pushing across the Coast with moderate to heavy rain and gusty wind Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, the main system spread across the western interior through the afternoon. West to southwest winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph accompanied precipitation across California through the morning and led to downed trees and power lines. Rain in southern California continued through the afternoon and began to shift into the Southwest. While much of the heavy snow across the Sierra Nevada gradually tapered off through the morning, snow showers continued through the afternoon and led to additional accumulations. Meanwhile, an arctic air from the north plunged southward into the Intermountain West and enhanced snowfall across northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and the Central Great Basin.
A winter storm pummeled the western U.S. on Thursday with fierce wind gusts, heavy rain and up to 2 feet of snow, closing freeways, forcing people from their homes in a California town and dumping a snowy mix of precipitation on the edges of Phoenix. Nevada was blasted with frigid winds, an area of western Washington saw whiteout conditions, and strong winds created snow dunes on rooftops, front yards and streets across mountainous areas of Arizona. Snow and ice forced an hours-long closure of Interstates 40 and 17, the two major thoroughfares in northern Arizona, stranding motorists south of Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. People in Phoenix were stunned at the sight of snow-type flurries that the National Weather Service said were a combination of hail and snow that melts before it hits the ground. Drivers wanting to know how to get around the storms overwhelmed an Arizona hotline that provides automated updates on road conditions. State Department of Transportation spokesman Timothy Tait said the line took in 60,000 calls in an 8-hour span Thursday morning. The Silverton Mountain resort in Colorado reported 22 inches of snow, but only about 120 people were on the mountain because officials closed highways leading to the ski area for avalanche control and because of adverse conditions, resort co-founder Jen Brill said. The National Weather Service said snow could fall at a rate close to an inch an hour starting Thursday evening in the Denver area, which usually has around 25 inches of snow by this time of the season but had just 1.5 inches before Thursday. Meanwhile, southwestern New Mexico was being hit with blizzard conditions that were forecast to continue through midnight Thursday. Winds of up to 65 mph, heavy snow and rapidly falling temperatures made travel difficult if not impossible, forecasters said.
Phoenix was bracing for freezing overnight temperatures, a rarity in the desert city. Inmates housed at the city's Tent City jail facility were being issued extra blankets and pink thermal underwear - part of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's odd method for punishing prisoners. Snow also forced California transportation officials to close Interstate 15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where winds were gusting to more than 40 mph. The freeway eventually reopened. The California Highway Patrol reported downed trees on various Los Angeles-area freeways and streets. One gust north of Los Angeles was clocked at 94 mph. An overflowing irrigation canal in Lamont, about 75 miles north of Los Angeles, forced Kern County authorities to call for the evacuation of 120 homes. Fire spokesman Sean Collins said the call went out at 6:30 a.m. Thursday and it was possible the evacuation could be lifted in the afternoon as water receded.
In the snow-laden Sierra Nevada, search teams found the body of a woman
who disappeared while snowboarding at a Lake Tahoe-area resort, sheriff's Capt. Jeff Ausnow said. Shawnte Marie Willis, 25, became separated from friends Tuesday at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, and bad weather had hindered the search. The Coast Guard was considering calling off a search after finding no sign of a 20-foot boat reported in trouble in rough seas off San Diego late Wednesday. A call picked up by a sea salvage company reported a man and three children aboard a boat taking on water. Eric Lamb, a captain at the company, said it may have been a hoax. A camping Boy Scout troop had to be rescued after a snowstorm stranded them near Pocatello, Idaho. The seven boys and three adults had planned to spend Tuesday night at Lariat Cave but were unable to get out, Power County Sheriff Jim Jeffries said. They called for help Wednesday morning and responders brought them out by snowmobile several hours later.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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