17/06/2024

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Flight cancellation and delay news: Blizzard expected to blast the US Plains and cause travel delays

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Flight cancellation and delay news: Blizzard expected to blast the US Plains and cause travel delays

Blizzard warnings have been issued across the Central Plains, threatening Christmas Day travelers with delays and dangerous road conditions.

More than 725,000 people across Nebraska, South Dakota and parts of Colorado are under blizzard warnings as of Monday morning with heavy snowfall, strong winds and icy conditions expected.

“Significant winter storm will ‘let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’ over portions of the Central Plains on Christmas where blizzard conditions and hazardous travel are anticipated; treacherous ice accumulations expected in the eastern Dakotas and northern Minnesota,” the National Weather Service said in an early morning update Monday.

Street maintenance workers and snowplows hit the streets early in Omaha, Nebraska, to prepare as the holiday winter storm moved in. Portions of northeast and central Nebraska are under a blizzard warning, with an expected 5 to 11 inches of snow and ice accumulations, as well as up to 45 mph winds, according to the weather service.

“We will have full street maintenance staff working beginning at 3:30 a.m. Christmas morning to plow and spread salt as needed. Contractor resources are on call,” the city of Omaha said in a Facebook post.

Douglas County engineer Todd Pfitzer in Omaha told CNN affiliate KETV a fleet of 40 snowplows headed onto the streets at 6 a.m. “You just have to be ready,” Pfitzer said. “Cause if you’re not, and it gets out ahead of you, it can really be a problem.”

The weather service also issued a blizzard warning for portions of east central and southeast South Dakota, where up to 11 inches of snow is expected and travel “could be very difficult to impossible.”

Areas across east central and northeast Colorado, as well as northwest Kansas, also have blizzard warnings in effect until Wednesday morning.

The weather service cautioned people living in areas placed under blizzard warnings to avoid traveling but if they must travel, to bring survival kits and stay in their vehicles if they become stranded.

“Due to ongoing heavy snow accumulation and high winds, driving conditions are rapidly deteriorating across the state, especially in central and north central Nebraska. Travelers are strongly encouraged to check https://511.nebraska.gov before traveling,” the Nebraska State Department of Transportation said Monday morning. The Nebraska State Patrol said travel is not recommended.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol has already responded to several crashes in Watertown due to icy roads and warned drivers the ice-covered road conditions and strong winds are going to worsen throughout the day and will make driving dangerous.

The winter storm system will likely affect flights in the region, with airports including Eppley Airfield in Omaha and Sioux Falls Regional Airport in South Dakota advising travelers to check their status of their flights and consult with airlines regarding delays and cancellations.

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