CHICAGO: A significant winter storm that hit the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest on Wednesday caused hundreds of schools to close, grounded flights, and made travel challenging, if not impossible, in some parts of the country.
As the storm rolled across a sizable portion of the western and northern United States and into the East on Wednesday morning, more than 50 million Americans were under winter weather advisories. In certain areas, the National Weather Service predicted gusts of up to 60 miles per hour and snowfall of up to 2 feet (60 cm) over the day and into Thursday.
A cold winter storm will affect much of California through the end of the week. Heavy rain, snow, wind, and cold temperatures are likely. Please see our latest Key Messages for more information. pic.twitter.com/9hJkdyvazI— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) February 22, 2023
Around 17 inches (43 cm) of snow, winds that gusted up to 45 mph (72 kph), and temperatures that lingered around 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 5 C) punished people going about their daily lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Bre Bethke, 37, a manager at M.B. Haskett Delicatessen, remarked after being pelted by the harsh weather each time she opened a drive-through window for a waiting client, “It’s terribly cold, but people still want their coffee and eggs.”
“Our regulars come here to escape the chilly weather. But today, definitely not. This is excessive.
Meanwhile, the storm-battered California and sent snow and sleet to the East, including New England, where forecasters advised drivers to be cautious of slick roadways.
According to Frank Pereira, a forecaster with the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, ice-covered power lines and falling trees could result in power outages late on Wednesday and into Thursday. Snow-covered roads will also make travel hazardous in the Upper Midwest.
Travel will be practically impossible, he predicted.
According to experts, excessive heat and dry spells, interwoven with increasing numbers and intensities of these storms, are signs of a changing climate. According to the weather service, the Northern Plains have had an extraordinary winter in terms of snowfall and temperatures, in contrast to the East Coast’s comparatively mild winter.
Minneapolis was one of the Midwest’s hardest-hit cities. There was expected to be whiteout conditions due to the 20 inches (50 cm) of snow and the 45 mph (72 kph) gusts.
At a press conference, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter stated, “We are prepared for what is likely to be one of the greatest snowstorms in Minnesota history.”
In Minneapolis and the neighboring city of St. Paul, local authorities declared emergencies, and drivers were instructed to stay off the roads.
More than 29,000 students will attend courses remotely for the remainder of the week, according to the Minneapolis school system. Many school districts in the Dakotas, Colorado, and Wyoming called off classes.
The storm had a disastrous impact on morning flights. According to Flightaware.com, 3,500 flights were either delayed or cancelled across the country, including 470 flights into and out of Minneapolis.
According to the weather service’s Pereira, it also created a zone of freezing rain that stretched from central Iowa through Chicago and into southern Michigan, coating roads, trees, and power lines with up to a 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) of ice.
Tuesday saw the storm make landfall in California, and it was predicted to last through the end of the week. The first warning from the meteorological service since 1989, a rare snowstorm was issued for the mountains in Los Angeles County.