SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (AP) — A massive winter storm battered the central United States Monday, threatening millions of people with heavy snow, freezing rain and flooding.
The National Weather Service warned there could be “several widespread and high-impact weather hazards in the heart of the country this week.” Residents from Idaho to Wisconsin, and as far south as Louisiana, were warned to be prepared for blizzard conditions in the north and flash flooding in the south.
By Tuesday, Texas and northern Louisiana could be affected by strong hail, winds and tornadoes. The storm will continue through the southeast of the country towards Florida in the next few days, according to forecasters.
“This is going to be a busy week as this system moves across the country,” said Marc Chenard, a National Weather Service meteorologist in the College Park, Maryland, office.
Officials in western South Dakota on Monday asked residents to prepare for 6 inches (15 centimeters) or more of snow. “Have your shovels handy, buy your groceries, and check for other necessary supplies. The roads will be difficult to navigate,” they warned.
Regions stretching along the frontal range of the Rockies, from Montana south to Colorado, were under snowstorm warnings Monday, with the National Weather Service saying up to 61 was possible. centimeters (2 feet) of snow in parts of western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska. Meanwhile, ice and sleet were forecast for the eastern Great Plains.
The weather conditions are part of the same system that dumped large amounts of snow in the Sierra Nevada over the weekend, while downpours in lower-lying areas prompted flood watches to be issued for wide swaths from California to Nevada.
Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe suspended some operations when the brunt of the storm hit on Saturday. The resort posted a video showing the chairlifts swinging violently in winds that reached 100 miles per hour (161 kilometers per hour), along with a tweet to remind people to wind the closures.” They are always for your safety.”
The Central Sierra Snow Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley campus in Soda Springs, Calif., reported Sunday morning that more than 43 inches (110 centimeters) of snow had fallen in a 48-hour span.