Video: Wicked weather sparks 100 car pileup

  1. Closed captioning of: Wicked weather sparks 100 car pileup

    >>> more ugly and wintry weather hitting out west, especially in arizona where the white mountains are in whiteout conditions. forecasters say minnesota , colorado , new mexico are also in the path of this subfreezing front. nbc has the latest on the toll that it's taken so far.

    >> reporter: craig , this storm has claimed at least four lives so far. two motorists were killed in minnesota . one in nevada. a snowboarder was found dead here in lake tahoe thursday morning. but in addition to those tragedies, this system is just wreaking havoc throughout the west and midwest . colorado really getting hit hard right now. the denver area hasn't seen much snow so far this season. that's all changing. they're expecting as much as ten inches to fall in the denver, colorado , area. and they also had to cancel several flights at the international airport there in anticipation of these treacherous conditions. also seeing a lot of snow pile up in arizona . particularly in flagstaff, arizona . really started coming down hard there. they had to close down two major highways in arizona . dozens of motorists were stranded for a period of time. some of them even reporting they had to spend the night on the roads. new mexico is bracing itself for a windchill that could dip down to negative 30 degrees. so authorities are asking people to stay inside if they can and to just be careful throughout this very stormy time here in the west and midwest . forecasters are saying this storm system now heads to the nation's mid section. craig , back to you.

    >> thank you.

    >>> speaking of nasty weather. check this out. state police are trying to untangle this ugly mess on the highways of north dakota . 100-car chain reaction pile-up on i-94, horrible mess. whiteout conditions and icy roads are being blamed for it. tow crews have spent hours hauling off the damage. the state's now under a blizzard warning . if you're out there, best bet is to stay off of the roads.

    >>> out with the old and in with the new, so far this year, plenty of folks probably not too upset about seeing 2010 go at least in terms of the weather. not out of the wintry woods just yet, though. nbc meteorologist bill karins joining me now.

    >> what an end, huh?

    >> what an end, indeed.

    >> start january already. rough morning, too. not only do we have the blizzard in the midwest , telling everyone to stay off the roads, tracking tornadoes of all things. this is branson, missouri. of course a lot of people go down there to the ozarks. a nice little resort area . and there's a tornado warning right over the top of branson at the current time with this storm right here. no reports of a tornado on the ground yet. if i hear anything, i hear any damage reports, i'll bring that to you. overnight, a couple of tornadoes on the border of oklahoma and arkansas. a couple of barns were destroyed and the roof of a house. now we will have a tornado watch that includes the st. louis area. here you go into new year's eve. you've got a tornado watch for st. louis. crazy weather day. big strong storm. that's going to continue with some steady rainfall during the day today in chicago. and right along the lakeshore we're going to have more thunderstorms early. the white, this is all snow. interstate 80 , especially up there in interstate 90 , people will get trapped on the roads today. gusty winds. blizzard warnings. as far as the warnings go, they expanded a little bit here. up until noon tomorrow, from fargo to rapid city and sioux falls , that's the area of red. anyone map polie minneapolis, a little bit of light rain for you. our computers are predicting the possibility of one to two feet in this purple area here. that's much of south dakota and along the border of minnesota . this isn't a joke, craig . minus 30 is the windchill in fargo right now. you are under a blizzard warning with windchills of about 0 to minus 30. you do not want to get trapped on the roads today. if your car gets stuck, danger. that's frostbite territory.

    >> who would think that chicago would be the warmest place on a map, huh?

    >> weird day weatherwise.

    >> before i let you get out of here. a lot of folks, i asked you this an hour ago but i'm asking you again because the forecast can change on a dime. folks heading to pittsburgh, what do we think?

    >> latest looks like saturday morning is going to be dry in pittsburgh. the reason we're talking about this is because we've got a hockey game being played outdoors. big deal . and looks like rain should be moving in during the noon hour or early in the afternoon. that's right when the puck should drop. so it's too bad they can't play the game earlier.

    >> capitals and penguins, thank you. staff and news service reports
updated 12/31/2010 9:28:29 AM ET 2010-12-31T14:28:29

A wintertime onslaught of snow, rain and bitter wind continued to wreak havoc into New Year's Eve day, pounding westerly states and causing a 100-car pileup in North Dakota.

Severe winds and heavy snowfall blanketed Minnesota and the Dakotas, snarling traffic and closing roads. The pileup, which closed Interstate 94 near Fargo, happened after two semi-trucks jackknifed Thursday night, North Dakota State Highway Patrol Capt. Eldon Mehor told The Grand Forks Herald.

Visibility and road conditions were so bad, Highway Patrol was rescuing drivers by foot and snowmobile, according to KVLY-TV . Three people were brought to the hospital, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

Further west, Denver faced its heaviest snows of the season early Friday, while parts of Wyoming and New Mexico bundled up against stormy weather and frigid temperatures.

Phoenix braced for a subfreezing Friday morning, a rarity there. On Thursday, the storm dumped a snowy mix of precipitation on the edges of the desert city.

Officials closed a road into Yosemite National Park in California after a rock the size of a dump truck tumbled onto the road, 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 the two major thoroughfares in northern Arizona, stranding motorists south of Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.

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Major highways were also shut down in parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Nevada.

Forecasters were predicting more of the same in eastern parts of Wyoming and New Mexico. And snow could fall at a rate close to an inch an hour in Denver, which usually has around 25 inches of snow by the New Year but had just 1.5 inches.

Up to a foot forecast for Colorado
The Denver and Colorado Springs areas could get up to a foot of snow as the storm lingers through Friday, and the eastern plains could see up to 7 inches, the National Weather Service said.

Meanwhile, a cold front was continuing its sweep across New Mexico with overnight snows in the east.

New Mexico State police Thursday were discouraging drivers from traveling east of Albuquerque. An 80 mile stretch of Interstate 40 from Moriarty to Santa Rosa was closed for about five hours but reopened before midnight. Still, a temporary shelter is in place in Moriarty for stranded travelers.

On Thursday, 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.

Video: Latest forecast for severe weather

R.A. Burrell, of Colorado Springs, left home around 3 a.m. to avoid getting stuck on the way to the extreme ski area and made it before the lift started running.

"I thought we'd really just come on a magical day, which is what it turned out to be," he said during a break from making turns. "We just got lucky."

United Airlines, the dominant carrier at Denver International Airport, canceled 32 United and United Express flights from Denver on Thursday, spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said.

Drivers in Arizona wanting to know how to get around the storms overwhelmed a state hotline that provides automated updates on road conditions.

Dorothy Brooks, of Dallas, was creeping along Interstate 40 at 20 mph on her way to Las Vegas, passing vehicles stuck on the side of the road, when she pulled into a Bellemont gas station to wait out the storm. Conditions, forecasts across the nation

"It's devastating," she said, above the cry of a 9-month-old baby she was pushing through the aisles. "You can't call Mother Nature anyway. You never know when she's going to burst out."

Forecasters said strong winds in California were expected to die down by early Friday, allowing a cold air mass to create frost and freeze problems in the region.

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.

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Residents in the Phoenix area couldn't believe what they were seeing when white stuff starting falling from the sky. The wintry mixture of snow and hail had the appearance of snowflakes.

"Believe it or not, but I am looking out my window in Scottsdale, Az & its SNOWING! Never thought I would see this!" former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner tweeted.

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.

In the snow-laden Sierra Nevada, search teams found the body of a woman who disappeared while snowboarding at a Lake Tahoe-area resort, officials said. Icy roads led to a collision on U.S. 50 in Nevada, killing a 26-year-old woman.

Video: Wild weather wreaks havoc out West

A camping Boy Scout troop of seven boys and three adults had to be rescued after a snowstorm stranded them near Pocatello, Idaho.

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Gordon Mason of Rockford, Ill., was taking it all in stride. The 62-year-old semi-truck driver was browsing through movies at a travel center in Arizona, grateful that something was open to occupy his time.

"The way the lot is, it's going to take a while to clear the trucks so the rest of us could get out," he said. "I'm not even going to try until tomorrow."

The Associated Press, The Grand Forks Herald, and KVLY-TV contributed to this report.


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