Severe weather is causing widespread disruption across the U.S., with a fresh round of snow prompting blizzard warnings for parts of the country, including Minnesota, where snowfall "could break records," officials have said.
The twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul were forecast to get up to 12 more inches of snow from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service said, on top of at least five inches that had already fallen.
By Thursday morning, heavy snow was falling across portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Great Lakes and New England will see snow as the storm continues to move across the country.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement Wednesday that while "Minnesotans are no strangers to extreme weather," this storm "could break records."
Records have already been broken in Colorado when temperatures reached minus 11 in Denver on Thursday. The previous record for this date was last year when it was minus 7, the weather service in Boulder tweeted, adding that it could "get a degree or two colder in the next few hours."
More than 55 million people, from the northern Plains to Boston and Maine and along the western U.S. coast, were under winter weather warnings or advisories Wednesday night, according to the weather service.
Blizzard warnings were in place for 2 million more, and ice storm warnings affected 8 million.
In the Los Angeles area, blizzard warnings were in effect for the mountains. The last time that appears to have happened was in 1989, the weather service in Oxnard said. The Bay Area was under a winter storm warning for the first time since 2011.
A series of low-pressure waves traversing an arctic cold front was pushing the heavy snow and blizzard conditions to the Plains and the Midwest, the weather service said, with major disruptions to travel likely.
“Fortunately, our plane got in, but it looked like there were 90% of the flights getting canceled,” said Ann Viksnins, who flew in to a surprisingly empty Minneapolis airport Wednesday. “It’s just really eerie here in the airport."
Minneapolis−St. Paul International Airport said it had more than 400 cancellations Wednesday.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Police Lt. Andrew Siebenborn joked to reporters that he made it “probably about 11 feet” to the end of his driveway before his squad car got stuck.
“We really aren’t even into the bad part of the storm that’s coming up, and we expect it to get a lot worse,” he said Wednesday, encouraging people to stay home and wait it out.
Around 8 ½ inches of snow had fallen at the city’s airport by 10 p.m. Wednesday, and the weather service expected the last round of snow to drop an inch an hour after midnight.
The Arizona Transportation Department closed parts of at least eight interstates or state routes Wednesday because of the winter storm. Around 3 to 6 inches of snow fell in the Flagstaff area, with winds gusting up to 50 mph, the weather service said.
Massive storm puts 29 states under winter weather alertsFeb. 23, 202302:57
The heavy snow risk in the western U.S. will be mainly in California on Thursday and Friday because of a new storm, according to the weather service.
The blizzard warning in Southern California is for the mountains in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, it said, from 4 a.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday. The mountains could get 5 feet of snow, it said.
Minneapolis and St. Paul were under a winter storm warning until noon Thursday, and forecasters warned the toughest travel conditions were expected through Thursday morning.
Green Bay, Wisconsin, was under a winter storm warning until 6 p.m. Thursday, and the warning for Bangor, Maine, was set to expire at 10 p.m.