Millions of people received winter weather advisories and storm warnings on the Tuesday after a White Christmas, and forecasters say the north-central U.S. will continue to see heavy snow, blizzard conditions and freezing rain, hampering travel plans as Americans return home after the holiday.
Blizzard warnings affecting more than 600,000 people went into effect Monday for the winter storm that brought 8 to 12 inches to western parts of South Dakota. The National Weather Service said heavy snow and winds of up to 60 mph will create hazardous conditions and cause widespread travel disruptions across the region.
The worst of the winter conditions occurred Monday night and early Tuesday morning in western Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska and northern Kansas, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Dan Pedinowski. The storm is expected to weaken Tuesday afternoon, but locals will still have to deal with snow and ice.
“Travel will be very difficult with wind-driven snow and a fair amount of freezing rain as well,” Pedinowski told USA TODAY.
Much of South Dakota and Nebraska as well as parts of northwestern Kansas and far eastern Colorado were also under blizzard warnings on Christmas Day.
Post-Christmas travel is in flux amid the winter weather
The weather caused a delay in people returning to their homes on Tuesday after the Christmas holiday by land and sky.
There were more than 3,000 delays affecting inbound, outbound and intra-U.S. flights by mid-morning Tuesday, and more than 80 flights were cancelled, according to FlightAware.
While most of the eastern half of Colorado was under weather warnings, roads were closed, including I-70 from Denver to the Kansas line, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported. The National Weather Service warned that high winds near Fort Collins could create dangerous driving conditions due to blowing dust and snow, with the risk of vehicles being stranded on Interstate 25.
The weather service said fallen trees could lead to road closures and power outages in parts of the Dakotas. In Nebraska, the State Patrol said snow that fell during a Christmas Day storm could leave slick spots on roads, impacting travelers on Tuesday.
South Dakota weather map
Flood rainfall has decreased in the southern and central Appalachians
Heavy rains that caused flash floods and mudslides in southern and central Appalachia should gradually taper off on Tuesday, Pedinowski said. A flood watch went into effect Monday from the northeastern corner of Georgia through northern South Carolina into western North Carolina.
“We're certainly concerned about some of the flash flooding and some of the potential for rockslides and mudslides that can happen quite often…in western North Carolina, it's a very notorious area,” he said.
I-80 is closed:A major highway in Nebraska is closed as tractor trailers block the snowy road
North Carolina weather map
Heavy snowfall is possible in parts of the Northwest
Eastern Oregon and Washington will continue to see snow and icy conditions Tuesday morning after heavy wintry rain on Monday.
“It's not a huge accumulation. Maybe an inch or two (of snow), but again it could be enough to make some messy trips for people who have to go back to work,” Pedinowski said.
He added that snow levels in the waterfalls area should rise, which means that the area will see a wave of rain due to the passage of warm air.