A winter storm expected to batter every state east of the Mississippi River pushed east Wednesday, bringing snow, ice, school closures and vehicle restrictions to a wide swath of the nation.
While the Central Plains saw the bulk of its snow in the overnight hours, cities including Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Washington were getting the worst of the storm on Wednesday, AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Edwards said.
Airline traffic was under siege, with almost 700 flights canceled into and out of metro Washington’s three airports alone by 7 a.m.. More than 200 were canceled for Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, Philadelphia International had more than 100 flights canceled.
The storm is expected to end Thursday, but not before affecting more than 200 million people.
“Significant ice threat is also expected across the spine of the Appalachian Mountains all the way from far southwestern North Carolina up and through Pennsylvania and into parts of far southern New York,” Edwards said.
He said ice “secretion” of over a half-inch were expected in parts of West Virginia and Virginia. The likely outcome: Downed power lines and tree branches in addition to treacherous road conditions.
School closing in major cities and their environs stretched from Minneapolis down to Kansas City and east to Washington and Philadelphia. Officials scheduled vehicle restrictions on Pennsylvania highways Wednesday, urging people to monitor snow and ice.
Daily snowfall records were set on Tuesday in North Little Rock, Arkansas; and Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; all of which received several inches of snow, AccuWeather reported.
A quarter-inch of ice weighed down branches and power lines in Boone County, Arkansas, knocking out power for 2,000 households on Tuesday night. Car accidents and road closures paralyzed parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa on Tuesday night, AccuWeather said.
On Wednesday, 4 to 8 inches of snow is expected from eastern Nebraska into eastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Temperatures will be below freezing from the Dakotas into the Upper Mississippi Valley through Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
The Mid-Atlantic will see snow change to sleet and freezing rain, followed by rain. Areas near the central Appalachians may see 4 to 8 inches of snow and ice accumulations up to 0.25 inches.
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In the South, an additional 1 to 3 inches of heavy rain will fall on already saturated grounds through Wednesday afternoon. The National Weather service has issued flood and flash flood watches from the Lower Mississippi Valley into portions of the Ohio Valley.
West of the Rocky Mountains, the National Weather Service said high temperatures will be 10 to 20 degrees below average through Thursday. More than a foot of snow is expected through Thursday night in some of the major mountain ranges from Washington and Oregon into Arizona and southwestern Colorado.