White Christmas for West After Rain, Storms Hamper Holiday Travel – NBCNews.com
Western parts of the U.S. awoke to a white Christmas Thursday, as much of the nation dealt with a drenching from the storm front that snarled holiday travel plans for millions of Americans.
Between two and six inches of snow was forecast in the valleys in northern California, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, according to the National Weather Service, with higher elevations facing up to a foot of powder.
Even Hawaii was expected to see some snow, as a blizzard warning remained in effect for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island. The National Weather Service said that up to eight inches of snow could accumulate above 11,500 feet.
“Usually it’s just a dusting or up to an inch or two,” weather service Meteorologist Norman Hui told the Associated Press. “Right now we have a pretty powerful winter storm.”
The Dakotas and Minnesota already have accumulations of several inches from a deadly storm that moved eastward across the country on Tuesday and Wednesday, dropping tornadoes in the South and windy, wet weather on the East Coast.
More than 300 flights were canceled in the U.S. on Christmas Eve, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was hardest hit, accounting for about 100 of the cancellations. Passengers on one canceled flight from New Jersey to Florida were told they wouldn’t be able to reach their destination until Friday, NBC Philadelphia reported.
Parts of the Northeast will see more torrential rain on Thursday, with up to an inch and a half possible in some areas, according to NBC Connecticut.
In Michigan, utility companies braced for extremely strong winds a year after a storm put thousands of people in the dark on Christmas Eve.
A new weather front was due to move across the Rockies during Thursday, dumping as much as one to two feet in higher areas before weakening and heading into the north-central High Plains on Friday, forecasters said.
Sierra passes could get between three and six inches of snow, with up to 10 inches possible on the highest ridges by morning, Brooke Bingaman, a meteorologist with the weather service in Sacramento, told NBC Bay Area.
– Alastair Jamieson
The Associated Press contributed to this report.