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Winter Storm Makes for Messy Travel in Plains, Northeast

Treacherous Winter Storms Snarl Holiday Travel Across U.S. 1:43

Snow and ice created treacherous travel for much of the country Monday, as millions of Americans embarked on the journey back home from their holiday weekend or returned to work.

Gusty winds on Monday blew snow and created near-zero visibility across the northern Great Plains, where heavy snow fell at a rate of up to one inch per hour on Christmas Day. Officials issued no-travel warnings for much of North Dakota.

There were power outages, too. The South Dakota Rural Electric Association said more than 12,000 customers were without power Monday morning.

The storm will gradually weaken over the Plains before marching on to the Northeast, where freezing rain advisories were issued for central Pennsylvania, central New York, and much of New England. Morning ice in the Northeast turned to rain by Monday afternoon and was forecast to end early Tuesday.

A handful of flights — just under 300 — were canceled in the U.S. by Monday afternoon, while more than 2,100 were delayed. In many places, the bigger concern was traveling by car.

"Stay put," National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gust, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, told the Associated Press. "Between the ice and snow, and winds howling like crazy, there will be nothing moving" until late afternoon Monday.

Image: A woman makes her way through snow
A woman makes her way through snow on Monday in Bismarck, North Dakota. Tom Stromme / The Bismarck Tribune via AP

The winter storm was expected to rapidly wind down late Monday, with lake effect snow showers persisting below Lake Superior and Lake Michigan through Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.

A wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain was forecast for Monday night across parts of northern New England, the NWS said.

The wild weather follows a fierce Christmas Day winter storm that caused blizzard conditions in eastern Montana and parts of North and South Dakota, and resulted in winter storm warnings issued in Minnesota, Wyoming and parts of Northern Nebraska.

Related: Winter Storm Brings White Christmas, Blizzard Conditions to Northern Plains

The Dakotas were hit the hardest, and hundreds of miles of highways were closed Sunday evening. A snow emergency was declared in Bismarck, North Dakota, after more than a foot fell.

Elsewhere, travel was just as impacted: Utah got pounded with more than 2 feet of snow, and Flagstaff, Arizona, was reeling from a foot of snow.

The poor visibility and slippery roads left commuters desperate. At the North Rim of the Grand Canyon early Saturday, Arizona authorities rescued a woman who had gotten stuck in her car with her husband and son on Thursday, and decided to get out to find help by foot.

Airport cancellations could impede post-holiday travel 1:16

Karen Klein walked about 26 miles to get assistance for her husband and 10-year-old, the Coconino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. She was found inside a building and taken to a hospital for cold exposure, while her husband and son, who had hiked to another area to find cell phone service, were also both treated for cold exposure and frostbite.

Not all of the country will be buried under snow Monday. Much of the eastern United States will experience temperatures 15 to 25 degrees above average Monday, with daily record highs possible from the Midwest to the South. Cleveland could tie or break its daily record of 64 degrees Monday; so could Nashville, where the daily record currently stands at 73 degrees.