A powerful winter storm that dumped heavy snow from the Central Rockies to the Upper Great Lakes — including a foot around Minneapolis — weakened Thursday as it moved to the northeast.
But forecasters say a second storm, already pummeling California, could disrupt travelers, particularly in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states, as they begin heading home on Sunday.
Weather Channel forecasters warned of the possibility of end-of-holiday travel delays from wet or snow-covered roads and flight delays because of low pressure moving into the East.
The forecast calls for snow mainly in New York state and New England, with rain possible from the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast. The Midwest should still be coping with lingering snow as the weekend winds down.
Holiday travel basics for infrequent flyers:6 things to know if you haven’t flown latelyWhile the first system, which hit early this week, was still expected to produce mighty gusts across much of the northeast, it fell short in Manhattan, allowing organizers of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to permit the iconic balloons to float above the crowds as the floats wound their way through New York City streets.
Under parade rules, the balloons are lowered, or even grounded, when sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph.
Forecasters said the fading storm was still likely to drop 3 to 6 inches of snow northern New Hampshire into northern Maine and generate very windy conditions in much of the northeast.
The storm, which began to weaken on Thanksgiving Day, disrupted some holiday travelers — with flight cancellations and icy roadways — as it spread from the Rockies across the northern tier on Tuesday and Wednesday.
One person was killed near the ski town of Vail, Colorado, when a tractor-trailer jackknifed and was hit by two other trucks on Interstate 70.
Between 9 inches to a foot of snow around Minneapolis forced the city to declare a snow emergency Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the second, powerful storm in the northwest, which had been dubbed a “bomb cyclone,” forced the shutdown of a hundred miles of Interstate 5 between Yreka and Redding in northern California on Wednesday due to spinouts by motorists, according to CalTrans.
A “bomb cyclone” is a rapidly intensifying winter storm that is triggered by a precipitous drop in atmospheric pressure. This one on Tuesday in northern California trapped many travelers on the road for hours, some spending the night in their cars.
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Christina Williams of Portland, Oregon, told the Associated Press that it took her and her 13-year-son 17 hours to reach Redding, a trip that normally takes seven hours.
Williams said she and other stranded drivers connected on Twitter using weather-related hashtags and began to communicate to find out what conditions were like in other parts of the backup.
“There were spinouts everywhere. There were trucks that were abandoned. And every time we stopped and started moving again, there were people who couldn’t start moving again,” Williams said. “Every time we stopped I was like, ‘Is this it? Are we going to be here overnight?’”
Forecasters said heavy snow is likely through the end of the week from the
Sierra Nevada to the central and northern Rockies, with 1 to 2 feet of snow in many of these areas.
By Friday, as the storm moves eastward, snow is forecast to develop across the northern Plains where winter storm watches are now in effect.