The same storm already responsible for several deaths in Arizona is taking aim on the Great Plains for the Christmas holiday. The severe blizzard will rage from Kansas to Minnesota, stranding motorists and airline passengers and may put the unwary and ill-prepared in peril. The same storm will also threaten lives and property by triggering damaging thunderstorms across the South, flooding in the Ohio Valley and the East Coast and a nasty ice storm over the interior Northeast.
strengthening storm producing snow, ice, rain and locally severe thunderstorms over the Plains will transform into a severe blizzard spanning Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, zapping power, closing roads and placing some people's lives in peril.
Snow and ice are already coating roads, sidewalks, trees and power lines from around Lake Michigan to the the High Plains.
Wind-whipped and blowing snow will then begin to pound Nebraska, Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma on Christmas Eve.
The fierce, adverse weather will spread northward across the rest of the Plains into Christmas Day as winds can gust to 60 mph in some locations.
The worst of the blizzard will slam places from Wichita and Kansas City to Omaha, Sioux Falls and Marshall, Minn., late Thursday into Friday. Twelve to 18 inches of snow, with locally up to 2 feet, will bury this corridor. Strong winds will severely blow and drift the snow.
Travel will become extremely hazardous, if not impossible. The severe blowing and drifting snow will keep visibility extremely low for a prolonged period of time.
Motorists that attempt to travel in the blizzard run the risk of becoming stranded. Officials may be forced to close portions of interstates 29, 35, 70, 80 and 90 for a lengthy period of time.
Airline passengers who cannot adjust their flight plans prior to the storm may be forced to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in airports and not at the homes of friends or family.
The icy mix that affected travelers along the I-80 corridor Wednesday will lift farther to the north in the Midwest Thursday and eventually to the East on Christmas Day. The East Regional News story has more information on storm situation for the Atlantic Seaboard.
Over portions of the middle Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee valleys, the characteristic of this storm will be that of blinding downpours and problems ranging from flooded basements to flooded streams and lowland areas along rivers.
Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed to the content of this story.