Storm threatens 100 million in US with snow, ice

Agencies Chicago | Updated on February 01, 2011 Published on February 01, 2011

A mammoth storm threatens to dump mounds of fresh snow, sleet and ice on about 100 million already winter-weary people today as it barrels eastward across the United States.

High winds and freezing rain threatened to turn the roads into deadly ice rinks and knock down trees and power lines and forecasts warned of dangerously cold temperatures.

Blizzard, winter storm and freezing rain warnings were issued for more than 25 states, from North Dakota and Colorado down to New Mexico, then up through Texas, Kansas and Missouri to the Great Lakes region and across Pennsylvania to New England.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urged the residents to prepare in earnest for the fury of the storm.

“A storm of this size and scope needs to be taken seriously,” said the FEMA Administrator, Mr Craig Fugate, who warned that “it’s critical that the public does its part to get ready’’.

Mr Fugate urged the residents in the storm affected regions to “check on your neighbours, especially the elderly and young children — those who can be most vulnerable during emergencies’’.

Scores of schools and government offices were closed on Monday as freezing rain began to fall and more were set to close today.

Airlines warned of significant delays and cancellations and offered customers a chance to rebook flights at no fee.

The worst of the storm is expected today afternoon and evening as a large amount of moisture sucked up from the Gulf of Mexico feeds the huge system and is transformed into snow and thunderstorms.

Powerful winds and heavy snow could create white-out conditions and drifts as high as six to eight feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters), making travel impossible.

“Lurking behind this impressive winter storm is a powerful shot of Arctic air as a frigid surface high drops down from central Canada,” the National Weather Service warned.

Wind chills were forecast to drop to 30 to 50 below in Colorado, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Kansas, Idaho and even parts of Texas.

Officials warned the public to stay at home rather than try to brave the crippling and potentially record-breaking storm.

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Published on February 01, 2011
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