Snowstorm pounds US Midwest

A heavy snowstorm pelted the American Midwest, causing deadly road accidents and power failures and grounding flights for Christmas holiday travellers, United States media reported on Monday.

The storm left at least 11 dead in car crashes across the central US over the weekend, local papers said, with icy roads and poor visibility causing hundreds of accidents.

Snow, ice, fog and powerful winds created havoc for those trying to head home for the Christmas holiday on treacherous highways or via airports plagued by delays and cancelled flights, local newspapers said.

The National Weather Service on Sunday maintained winter-storm warnings for parts of the Great Lakes region with snow and powerful gusts in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

In parts of Michigan, 10cm to 17cm of snow was expected to fall by Christmas morning on Tuesday, the forecasters said.

And in Wisconsin, forecasters said “heavy snow” would be accompanied by windy weather, blowing snow and seriously reducing visibility.

While the weather was expected to clear up on Monday and Tuesday in the Midwest, big snowfalls were forecast for the Western states of Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and parts of Washington.

Driving wind toppled trees and knocked out power in several states, with 215 000 homes in the Chicago area losing electricity at some point on Sunday, the Chicago Tribune reported. By Sunday evening, about 15 000 homes were still without power.

In Michigan, powerful gusts left about 51 000 homes without power in the south-east of the state, the Detroit Free Press reported, quoting the local utility.

The winter weather forced the cancellation of about 300 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
In Minnesota, nearly 100 flights were grounded and others delayed for hours at the Twin Cities airport in Minneapolis-St Paul.

The weekend death toll from storm-related road accidents rose to at least 11 on Sunday, local newspapers said.—Sapa-AFP