Winter storms trigger travel headaches in 30 states; plane slides off taxiway in Buffalo

An unrelenting winter storm was marching east from the Plains and Midwest on Sunday as weary Thanksgiving weekend travelers made their way home.

“Heavy snow will continue to plaster the upper Mississippi Valley and northern Great Lakes region into Sunday night,” AccuWeather warned. “Strong winds will make for whiteout conditions at times.”

AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alan Reppert said Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey were seeing some of the worst weather Sunday morning – ice, snow and wind.

In the Northeast, a powerful nor’easter could collide Sunday night and Monday with cold air to trigger the first heavy snow of the year from New Jersey to Boston. A nor’easter is named for the direction of strong winds blowing in from the Atlantic.

Some areas could get an inch of snow an hour starting Sunday afternoon and lasting into Monday, the weather service said. Total snow accumulations of up to 16 inches and a tenth of an inch of ice can be expected in some areas around Boston.

“The @CityofBoston &@BostonPWD are well prepared for the storm that’s coming #Boston’s way,” Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted. “We encourage residents to use caution when traveling, assist vulnerable neighbors & keep up with shoveling. Please remember to abide by the snow rules & be safe.”

In Buffalo, a Delta Connection flight from New York slid off a taxiway following an “uneventful landing” Sunday morning, Delta Air Lines confirmed to USA TODAY. None of the 64 passengers aboard the Endeavor Air CRJ-900 were injured, the airline said.

Snow plows remove snow from Colorado Highway 72, near Denver, Colorado on November 30, 2019, in an effort to keep the highways clear of blowing and drifting snow. Holiday snow storms left as much as two feet of snow in some parts of the Denver area. High winds and drifting snow forced highway officials to close many roads.

More than 2,000 flights were delayed or canceled Sunday at airports in Chicago, Denver and Minneapolis alone. The airports had similar issues, and numbers on Saturday.

In some areas, fog was a major culprit Sunday.

“Allow extra time and use heightened caution,” the National Weather Service in Chicago tweeted. “If encountering dense fog slow down, use low beam headlights, and keep adequate following distance from the vehicle in front of you.”

The storm system, dubbed Winter Storm Ezekiel by The Weather Channel, was causing havoc in more than 30 states Sunday.

Strong, gusty winds will extend over much of the Plains and spread east of the Mississippi River during Sunday afternoon and night, AccuWeather said.

Some areas could get up to 2 feet of snow, and isolated areas near the Great Lakes could see 3 feet. The city of Lead, South Dakota, was hit with 30 inches of snow and reported snow drifts in excess of 5 feet.

Areas around Duluth, Minnesota, had 20 inches as of 6 a.m. Sunday. In Midland, Mich., the city reported numerous trees and power lines down because of ice – just four days after a power outage forced closure of City Hall.

The West was not exempt. A front driving heavy rains and high winds that rolled onto the California coast centered below San Francisco was expected to pound parts of the state with heavy rains and high winds for several days, and heavy snow was expected in the mountains. More than 1,000 flights were delayed or canceled into and out of San Francisco on Saturday and Sunday.

“Current wind gusts over 40 mph across the area. The strongest winds are in the hills and along the coast, where local gusts up to 60 mph are being observed,” the weather service in San Francisco tweeted Sunday morning. Then later: “Just lost power at the office. Thank goodness for the emergency power generator!”

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