Page last updated at 06:17 GMT, Sunday, 21 December 2008

US states braced for winter storm


One Detroit resident described the conditions as "a white-out"

A winter storm is continuing to sweep across large swathes of the US, with heavy snow and strong winds disrupting transport and power.

Storm warnings are in place in a number of states, with the National Weather Service warning of power outages and dangerous travel conditions.

Washington state faces hurricane-force winds and up to 6 inches (15cm) of snow as a storm blows in from the Pacific.

North-eastern states, badly hit by snow on Friday, may also be battered again.

Wintry weather that has been dumping snow on the Midwest is expected to move to the north-east on Sunday.

Officials in Iowa warned motorists to stay at home as heavy snow began to fall on Saturday, with a wind chill factor of minus 25C forecast.

In Illinois, forecasters said below-zero temperatures combined with gusts of wind could again damage power lines weakened by ice.

Minnesota could face some of the worst of the blast, with 15 inches of snow forecast, and "impossible" road travel.

The latest warnings come after a storm on Friday grounded planes and closed schools.

Among others, the National Weather Service said that in South Dakota there would be a fast-moving Arctic front during the weekend, with bitterly cold winds of up to 40mph (64km/h) creating widespread blizzard conditions.

Extreme weather

The National Weather Service warned New Hampshire residents they could face "greater extremes" on Sunday than they experienced during Friday's blizzard.

Power remained cut to several thousand homes and businesses in New Hampshire after last week's storm.

The forecast said up to 11 inches of wet snow was likely, leading to more power cuts in the state.

The greater danger was the combination of high winds and temperatures falling well below zero.

In the midst of Friday's storm more than 200 flights were cancelled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and more than 650 at three New York City-area airports, with others facing long delays.

In Illinois, about 60,000 customers lost power, with a further 35,000 in Ohio and 180,000 in Indiana.

Schools were closed across the north-east region.

In Las Vegas, residents and tourists were shocked to see the rare sight of palm trees along the Las Vegas strip covered in a thick coating of snow.

More than 3.5 inches (9cm) of snow fell across the city, its heaviest snowfall in nearly 30 years, cancelling flights and closing roads.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick asked non-essential state employees to stay home in a bid to prevent traffic jams on Friday, but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged people to get out of their houses and go shopping.

In Seattle, 11 people were hurt when two buses slid down an icy street, and broke through a guard rail above a motorway.

One dangled for several hours before being towed back from the brink.

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