Spring Storm Keeps Central U.S. in Icy Grip, Hampering Travel

spring storm
James Schoenhard plows sidewalks in downtown Sioux Falls, S.D., Saturday. (Briana Sanchez/The Argus Leader via AP)

A deadly storm system churning through the central U.S. has blanketed parts of the Upper Midwest in heavy snow and ice and battered areas farther south with powerful winds and even tornadoes.

About 200 flights were canceled Sunday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where two runways were open but nearly 13 inches of snow combined with strong winds were making it difficult to keep the runways open and the planes de-iced, spokesman Patrick Hogan said. On Saturday, the storm caused the cancellation of nearly 470 flights at the airport.

Two northeastern Wisconsin communities, Tigerton and Big Falls, received more than 2 feet of snow over the weekend, the National Weather Service in Green Bay reported. Parts of the state that were already blanketed were getting a second helping of snow on Sunday.

spring storm
(Briana Sanchez/The Argus Leader via AP)

The storm finally let up in South Dakota, allowing the airport in the state’s largest city, Sioux Falls, to reopen for the first time since Thursday. Interstates 90 and 29 in parts of eastern South Dakota also reopened, and no-travel advisories were lifted across the state border in southwestern Minnesota. The weather service predicted that a large swath of southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, could get up to 20 inches of snow by the time the storm moves eastward into New England.

Keith White, a weather service meteorologist in Marquette, Michigan, said moderate to heavy snow was falling Sunday morning in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He said more than a foot was possible by early Monday in the communities of Ishpeming and Negaunee, west of Marquette. Powerful winds knocked out power to thousands of customers in Michigan, which was expected to get more snow and ice throughout the weekend.

The weather service 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 18 feet.

spring storm
Stranded vehicles on Interstate 80 near Sidney, Neb., Friday, seen from a Nebraska State Patrol vehicle. (Nebraska State Patrol via AP)

There have been three deaths blamed on the storm system, which stretched from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. A sleeping 2-year-old girl in Louisiana was killed when a tree fell on her family’s recreational vehicle early Saturday. A Wisconsin woman was killed when she lost control of her minivan on slick roads and veered into an oncoming SUV. And an Idaho truck driver was killed when his semitrailer struck a semi in western Nebraska that had been stranded on a highway by the bad weather.

In Arkansas, a tornado ripped through the tiny Ozark Mountain town of Mountainburg on Friday, injuring at least four people. Video showed uprooted trees, overturned cars, damaged buildings and downed power lines. Powerful winds also damaged several buildings at the University of Central Arkansas, though no injuries were reported there.

The storm made its mark in Texas, where hail the size of hen eggs fell south of Dallas, according to meteorologist Patricia Sanchez. In Austin, fire officials said strong winds helped spread the flames after lightning struck and badly damaged two houses.

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