White Christmas Possible for Many with Winter Snow Storm

OMAHA, Dec. 24 (UPI) — The massive winter storm swept across the U.S. Plains and Midwest Christmas Eve, promising to intensify in much of the region, forecasters said.

Officials report as many as six people may have died in weather-related accidents on Nebraska roads with the worst yet to come in the Omaha and Lincoln areas. Blizzard-like conditions were expected by nightfall.

“Travel will be treacherous, and in some locations impossible, over the Christmas holiday,” Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley, told the Omaha World-Herald.

The storm system was expected to intensify as it moves up the Missouri Valley and strikes the Midwest, forecasters said. Freezing rain was causing travel problems in Iowa, Illinois, central Wisconsin and western Michigan. An ice storm warning was in effect in the Chicago area.

The Minnesota forecast called for one of the deepest Christmas snows on record across the region. The storm was expected to linger into Saturday, bringing 48 to 60 hours of snowfall with possibly 16 to 22 inches in a wide band from the Iowa border through the Twin Cities to Duluth and the Arrowhead.

Travel was expected to be hazardous in northwest and north-central Iowa with up to 14 inches of blowing snow.

South Dakota officials declared a state of emergency and said they expect part of their interstate highway system will be closed.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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