Ice and snow frustrate US holiday travel rush - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Ice and snow frustrate US holiday travel rush

Posted: Updated:
Travelers check in at the American Airlines ticket counter at Terminal 3 in O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) Travelers check in at the American Airlines ticket counter at Terminal 3 in O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) — A storm with a 2,000-mile footprint threatened to frustrate Christmas travelers from Texas to Nova Scotia with a little of everything Mother Nature has to offer, from freezing rain, ice and snow to flooding, thunderstorms and at least one tornado in the South.

Some of the millions of people hitting the roads and airports Saturday squeaked through before any major weather hit, but as the afternoon wore on, cancellations and delays started to mount at major aviation hubs. Forecasters said roads that are passable one minute could become treacherous the next as a cold blast on the backend of the storm turns rain to ice and snow.

Making it harder for forecasters to stay a step ahead, the system was a weird swirl of wintry and spring-like weather as it passed over areas in the Midwest. While ice was accumulating in Oklahoma and elsewhere, downing trees and power lines, Memphis, Tenn., was enjoying spring-like weather, with temperatures reaching into the 70s.

Authorities said a suspected tornado injured three people and damaged three homes Saturday evening near Hughes, Ark., which is just 35 miles southwest of Memphis. And David Cox, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Jackson, Miss., said a second suspected tornado touched down near Dermott in far southeastern Arkansas, injuring two people and damaging about 20 homes.

Powerful straight-line winds, too, were causing problems and were being blamed for pushing vehicles off of Interstate 40 near West Memphis, Ark., which backed up traffic in both directions for miles.

"This is a particularly strong storm with very warm, near record-breaking temperatures in the East and very cold air in the Midwest, and that contrast is the sort of conditions that are favorable for not only winter weather but also tornadoes," said National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Danaher in College Park, Md.

The worst of the storm was only supposed to hit Chicago on Saturday night, giving those traveling from, to and through the Windy City a window at the start of the holiday rush.

About 350 flights had been canceled, nationwide, as of 5 p.m. EST, according to aviation tracking website FlightAware.com. Most of the disruptions were affecting flights in and out of major hubs like O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, where a steady rain was falling Saturday night. included Dallas/Fort Worth International and Denver International airports were also affected Saturday.

It's bad timing for the estimated 94.5 million Americans planning to travel by road or air during this holiday season, which runs from Saturday through New Year's Day, and those hitting the roads for some last-minute shopping.

Darren Hall, 45, of Raymore, Mo., normally drives to St. Louis for the holiday, but decided not to risk it because of the freezing rain hitting the area and the promise of worse to come. Instead, he was waiting for a train at Kansas City's Union Station.

"You don't have to deal with all the roads. It's safer, less hassle," Hall said.

The storm had several bands of strikingly different weather.

In the upper Midwest, forecasters were expecting 6-8 inches of snow north and west of Chicago and in Wisconsin.

It was already bringing significant ice accumulations to Oklahoma, southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, splitting trees and snapping power lines. That was expected to change over to snow by Saturday night.

Northern New England was bracing for an ice storm Saturday night and into Sunday that forecasters said could bring more than a half-inch of ice to parts Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, which would make roads treacherous and cause widespread power outages.

"We've lined up hundreds of additional out-of-state line workers and tree trimmers in addition to all the GMP employees who will be working until all power is restored," Vermont Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said.

The weather service issued a flash flood watch from Arkansas northeastward through parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, with up to 4 inches of rain projected. With falling temperatures, some of that could be freezing rain by Saturday night in the St. Louis area, weather service meteorologist Jon Carney said.

In Indiana, the National Weather Service posted flood warnings along southern and central Indiana streams and predicted the highest flood crests along the East Fork of the White River since April 2011.

While the Midwest and Plains were preparing for ice and snow, residents down South were concerned about tornadoes, which are uncommon this time of year. Tornado watches were in place Saturday night for an area stretching from southern Louisiana to southern Indiana, which was also expected to get buffeted by powerful thunderstorms.

Rain and ice in Oklahoma were blamed for two fatal traffic accidents and thousands of power outages. A 16-year-old boy died early Saturday after his car crashed and overturned on U.S. 64 near Tulsa, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. And Oklahoma City police said a woman was killed Friday night in a collision on a slick roadway.

Forecasters said up to a half-inch of ice could accumulate across the middle of the state.

A woman sleeping in a hotel in western Michigan city of Holland was injured early Friday when a motorist lost control of his car on an icy street and slammed into the wall outside her room, MLive.com reported.

The weather wasn't the only headache maker. A baggage-equipment breakdown lasted for hours at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, creating a backed-up line of travelers that stretched onto the sidewalk outside one of the terminals.

If there is a silver lining, it's that Christmas happens mid-week this year, AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter said.

"When a holiday falls on a Wednesday it gives travelers more flexibility of either leaving the weekend before, or traveling right before the holiday and extending the trip through the following weekend," Hunter said.

___

Associated Press writers Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Mo., Lisa Rathke in Montpelier, Vt., David Sharp in Portland, Maine, Jeff Amy in Jackson, Miss., Ken Miller in Oklahoma City and Shelley Adler in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Part of new gun bill in Georgia would allow certain school employees to bring guns to school

    Part of new gun bill in Georgia would allow certain school employees to bring guns to school

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:59 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:59:47 GMT
    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is set to sign legislation that will change the states gun laws.Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is set to sign legislation that will change the states gun laws.
    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, on Monday, will sign legislation giving more freedom to those residents with licenses to carry weapons. House Bill 60 makes several changes to Georgia’s current law. The bill will allow people with a license to carry the ability to bring their gun into a bar without restrictions. It will allow people to bring their weapons into some government buildings that don’t have particular types of security. It will also give churches and worships centers the right to dec...More >>
    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, on Monday, will sign legislation giving more freedom to those residents with licenses to carry weapons. House Bill 60 makes several changes to Georgia’s current law. The bill will allow people with a license to carry the ability to bring their gun into a bar without restrictions. It will allow people to bring their weapons into some government buildings that don’t have particular types of security. It will also give churches and worships centers the right to dec...More >>
  • Parents remember daughter who died in ATV accident

    Parents remember daughter who died in ATV accident

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:54:01 GMT
    Gracie Abbott's parents never imagined that an Easter Sunday gathering would end the way it did. They tell me their daughter rode ATVs all time. And when they got the call that she was had been in an accident they were sure it wasn't that serious. But it was serious. "I talked to her. I told her that we were proud of her. I held her," said Sharon Abbott.Abbott says she's almost sure her daughter Gracie was gone at that point. She says Gracie's eyes were already fixated and dilated by the time...More >>
    Gracie Abbott's parents never imagined that an Easter Sunday gathering would end the way it did. They tell me their daughter rode ATVs all time. And when they got the call that she was had been in an accident they were sure it wasn't that serious. But it was serious. "I talked to her. I told her that we were proud of her. I held her," said Sharon Abbott.Abbott says she's almost sure her daughter Gracie was gone at that point. She says Gracie's eyes were already fixated and dilated by the time...More >>
  • Auburn University offering $10,000 reward for tips about campus threats

    Auburn University offering $10,000 reward for tips about campus threats

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:16 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:16:00 GMT
    Auburn University and police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for recent threats made on campus. Auburn University and police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for recent threats made on campus.
    After two incidents of threats within the past week that have disrupted classes and campus operations, Auburn University is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.More >>
    After two incidents of threats within the past week that have disrupted classes and campus operations, Auburn University is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.More >>
  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:10 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:10:24 GMT
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>
  • ABC 33/40 earns 6 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for 2014

    ABC 33/40 earns 6 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for 2014

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:28 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:28:29 GMT
    ABC 33/40 (WBMA) won six 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for Overall Excellence. (abc3340.com)ABC 33/40 (WBMA) won six 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for Overall Excellence. (abc3340.com)
    The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) announced Tuesday the winners of the 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, and ABC 33/40 earned six awards, including one for Overall Excellence in Large Market Television.More >>
    The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) announced Tuesday the winners of the 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, and ABC 33/40 earned six awards, including one for Overall Excellence in Large Market Television.More >>
  • UPDATE: Recycling limitations in City of Birmingham

    UPDATE: Recycling limitations in City of Birmingham

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:53:58 GMT
    It will take about two more weeks before full recycling resumes in the City of Birmingham.Since April 2, the city has only picked up paper and cardboard for recyclable material. That's because the Birmingham Recycling and Recovery facility sustained damages in a fire last month, which limited services.A City Spokesperson says people can take their items, including those made of glass, to the Alabama Environmental Council Recycling Center.That facility is located at the corner of 25th Street a...More >>
    It will take about two more weeks before full recycling resumes in the City of Birmingham.Since April 2, the city has only picked up paper and cardboard for recyclable material. That's because the Birmingham Recycling and Recovery facility sustained damages in a fire last month, which limited services.A City Spokesperson says people can take their items, including those made of glass, to the Alabama Environmental Council Recycling Center.That facility is located at the corner of 25th Street a...More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Search for Riverside man in Logan Martin Lake enters day 3

    Search for Riverside man in Logan Martin Lake enters day 3

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:31 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:31:06 GMT
    Various law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake. (abc3340.com)Various law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake. (abc3340.com)
    The search continues for a Riverside man who fell from a fishing boat in Logan Martin Lake on Sunday.More >>
    The search continues for a Riverside man who fell from a fishing boat in Logan Martin Lake on Sunday.
    More >>
  • Officer-involved shooting in Anniston leaves 53-year-old man dead

    Officer-involved shooting in Anniston leaves 53-year-old man dead

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:24 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:24:15 GMT
    ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Calhoun County officials say Anniston police fatally shot a man who was accused of pointing a gun at them. According to County Coroner Shane Adrian, 53-year-old Frank Charles Johnston was pronounced dead after being shot outside his house in the Blue Mountain area Tuesday morning. Adrian says neighbors told investigators that Johnston was standing in the street with a gun and that he pointed the weapon at responding officers. Adrian says Johnston's body is being taken to...More >>
    ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - Calhoun County officials say Anniston police fatally shot a man who was accused of pointing a gun at them. According to County Coroner Shane Adrian, 53-year-old Frank Charles Johnston was pronounced dead after being shot outside his house in the Blue Mountain area Tuesday morning. Adrian says neighbors told investigators that Johnston was standing in the street with a gun and that he pointed the weapon at responding officers. Adrian says Johnston's body is being taken to...More >>
  • Hunting accident under investigation in Etowah County

    Hunting accident under investigation in Etowah County

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 12:26 PM EDT2014-04-22 16:26:24 GMT
    The Etowah County sheriff's office and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are investigating a hunting accident that took place Tuesday morning.More >>
    The Etowah County sheriff's office and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are investigating a hunting accident that took place Tuesday morning.
    More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Search for Riverside man in Logan Martin Lake enters day 3

    Search for Riverside man in Logan Martin Lake enters day 3

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:31 AM EDT2014-04-23 15:31:06 GMT
    Various law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake. (abc3340.com)Various law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake. (abc3340.com)
    The search continues for a Riverside man who fell from a fishing boat in Logan Martin Lake on Sunday.More >>
    The search continues for a Riverside man who fell from a fishing boat in Logan Martin Lake on Sunday.
    More >>
  • Alabama State Bar to Host Free Legal Clinic in Tuscaloosa

    Alabama State Bar to Host Free Legal Clinic in Tuscaloosa

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 10:17 AM EDT2014-04-23 14:17:09 GMT
    The Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program, working in cooperation with the Tuscaloosa County Bar Association and the University of Alabama School of Law, will host a free legal clinic for low-income residents of Tuscaloosa County. The clinic is open to the more than 40,000 low-income residents of Tuscaloosa County coping civil legal challenges. The clinic's lawyers are experienced in various areas of the law and will be available to answer questions in the areas of divorce/custody/visit...More >>
    The Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program, working in cooperation with the Tuscaloosa County Bar Association and the University of Alabama School of Law, will host a free legal clinic for low-income residents of Tuscaloosa County. The clinic is open to the more than 40,000 low-income residents of Tuscaloosa County coping civil legal challenges. The clinic's lawyers are experienced in various areas of the law and will be available to answer questions in the areas of divorce/custody/visit...More >>
  • Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Major change to Alabama G.I. Dependents’ Scholarship program

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:10 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:10:24 GMT
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>
    Dependents who were previously denied education benefits based solely on the veterans' peace-time service dates should reapply.More >>
  • Part of new gun bill in Georgia would allow certain school employees to bring guns to school

    Part of new gun bill in Georgia would allow certain school employees to bring guns to school

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:59 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:59:47 GMT
    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is set to sign legislation that will change the states gun laws.Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is set to sign legislation that will change the states gun laws.
    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, on Monday, will sign legislation giving more freedom to those residents with licenses to carry weapons. House Bill 60 makes several changes to Georgia’s current law. The bill will allow people with a license to carry the ability to bring their gun into a bar without restrictions. It will allow people to bring their weapons into some government buildings that don’t have particular types of security. It will also give churches and worships centers the right to dec...More >>
    Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, on Monday, will sign legislation giving more freedom to those residents with licenses to carry weapons. House Bill 60 makes several changes to Georgia’s current law. The bill will allow people with a license to carry the ability to bring their gun into a bar without restrictions. It will allow people to bring their weapons into some government buildings that don’t have particular types of security. It will also give churches and worships centers the right to dec...More >>
  • Tuscaloosa police: Body of missing elderly man found in crashed truck in Northport

    Tuscaloosa police: Body of missing elderly man found in crashed truck in Northport

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:53 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:53:35 GMT
    Tuscaloosa police say the body of a 77-year-old man who was reported missing earlier this week has been found in a crashed truck.More >>
    Tuscaloosa police say the body of a 77-year-old man who was reported missing earlier this week has been found in a crashed truck.More >>
  • ABC 33/40 earns 6 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for 2014

    ABC 33/40 earns 6 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for 2014

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:28 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:28:29 GMT
    ABC 33/40 (WBMA) won six 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for Overall Excellence. (abc3340.com)ABC 33/40 (WBMA) won six 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for Overall Excellence. (abc3340.com)
    The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) announced Tuesday the winners of the 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, and ABC 33/40 earned six awards, including one for Overall Excellence in Large Market Television.More >>
    The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) announced Tuesday the winners of the 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, and ABC 33/40 earned six awards, including one for Overall Excellence in Large Market Television.More >>
  • Parents remember daughter who died in ATV accident

    Parents remember daughter who died in ATV accident

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:54 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:54:01 GMT
    Gracie Abbott's parents never imagined that an Easter Sunday gathering would end the way it did. They tell me their daughter rode ATVs all time. And when they got the call that she was had been in an accident they were sure it wasn't that serious. But it was serious. "I talked to her. I told her that we were proud of her. I held her," said Sharon Abbott.Abbott says she's almost sure her daughter Gracie was gone at that point. She says Gracie's eyes were already fixated and dilated by the time...More >>
    Gracie Abbott's parents never imagined that an Easter Sunday gathering would end the way it did. They tell me their daughter rode ATVs all time. And when they got the call that she was had been in an accident they were sure it wasn't that serious. But it was serious. "I talked to her. I told her that we were proud of her. I held her," said Sharon Abbott.Abbott says she's almost sure her daughter Gracie was gone at that point. She says Gracie's eyes were already fixated and dilated by the time...More >>
  • Woman allegedly sold heroin from hospital bed in Pennsylvania

    Woman allegedly sold heroin from hospital bed in Pennsylvania

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:46 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:46:50 GMT
    Lori Sullenberger (Facebook)Lori Sullenberger (Facebook)
    GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A woman in western Pennsylvania is accused of selling heroin from a hospital intensive care unit and a hospital room. Spokeswoman Jennifer Miele (MEE'-lee) for Excela Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg says hospital security became suspicious of the large number of people flowing in and out of the woman's room. Greensburg police say an undercover informant bought $90 worth of heroin Friday from the woman, who was being treated for an undisclosed ailment at the hospital...More >>
    GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A woman in western Pennsylvania is accused of selling heroin from a hospital intensive care unit and a hospital room. Spokeswoman Jennifer Miele (MEE'-lee) for Excela Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg says hospital security became suspicious of the large number of people flowing in and out of the woman's room. Greensburg police say an undercover informant bought $90 worth of heroin Friday from the woman, who was being treated for an undisclosed ailment at the hospital...More >>