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Spring storm blasts central US with snow, winds

China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-16 07:35

MINNEAPOLIS - A storm system stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes has buffeted the central United States with heavy snow, winds, rain and hail, forcing flight cancellations, creating treacherous road conditions and killing at least three people, including a sleeping 2-year-old Louisiana girl.

In the Upper Midwest, the early spring storm brought snow to a region pining for sunshine and warmth. Around 400 flights were canceled at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which grounded all flights starting on Saturday afternoon as heavy snow made it difficult to keep runways clear and planes deiced, while blizzard conditions forced the airport in South Dakota's biggest city, Sioux Falls, to remain closed for a second straight day.

Authorities closed several highways in southwestern Minnesota and driving conditions were difficult across the southern half of the state. The National Weather Service predicted that a large swath of southern Minnesota could get up to 51 centimeters by the time the storm blows through on Sunday.

"It's a cool experience for me, the best Minneapolis experience," Niko Heiligman, from Germany, said as he braved the snow on Saturday to take a walk in downtown Minneapolis. "I'm only here for the weekend, so I guess that's how it goes. There's snow and it's cold. So it's good."

The storm is expected to continue on Sunday in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan before moving into New York state and New England.

Up to 46 cm of snow had fallen by early Saturday in parts of northern Wisconsin, with another 36 cm expected by Sunday evening. Winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour caused blowing and drifting snow, along with ice shoves in Green Bay.

The NWS also warned of potential coastal flooding along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin and Illinois, where Chicago residents were warned that waves could reach as high as 5.5 meters.

Snow and wind gusts of up to 80 km/h whipped through parts of South Dakota for a second straight day on Saturday, causing blizzard conditions that made travel all but impossible.

Two storm-related deaths occurred early on Saturday. In Louisiana, winds downed a tree onto a mobile home in Haughton, killing a sleeping 2-year-old girl inside, according to the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office.

In Wisconsin, a woman was killed when she lost control of the minivan she was driving on a slippery highway and struck an oncoming SUV near Lewiston.

On Friday, a truck driver from Idaho lost control of his rig on snow-covered Interstate 80 near Chappell in western Nebraska and slammed into a semi that had become stranded, according to the Nebraska State Patrol. He died at the scene.

In Arkansas, a tornado ripped through the tiny Ozark Mountain town of Mountainburg on Friday, injuring at least four people and causing widespread damage.

The storm made its mark in Texas, too, where hail the size of chicken eggs fell on areas south of Dallas and Fort Worth, according to meteorologist Patricia Sanchez. In Austin, fire officials said strong winds helped spread the flames after lightning struck two houses that suffered heavy damage.

Associated Press

(China Daily 04/16/2018 page11)

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