“Historic snow” from major winter storm closes some Midwest COVID testing sites and disrupts travel

A major winter storm blanketed parts of the middle of the country with snow that was forecast to last into late Tuesday in some areas, closing some coronavirus testing sites and disrupting traffic. Combined with severe weather in California, some 90- to 100 million Americans were being impacted by winter weather Tuesday, said CBS News weather producer David Parkinson.

The National Weather Service said at least 4 inches of snow is expected across most of an area stretching from central Kansas northeast to Chicago and southern Michigan. Parts of southeast Nebraska and western Iowa could get more than three times that much.

More than 10 inches of snow had already fallen in parts of eastern Nebraska by Monday evening, leading to early closures of several coronavirus testing sites in the state as well as Iowa.

National Weather Service meteorologist Taylor Nicolaisen said 10 to 15 inches of snow was likely between York, Nebraska, and Des Moines, Iowa, and that it’s been at least 15 years since that area received more than a foot of snow in a single storm.

“This is historic snow,” said Nicolaisen, who’s based near Omaha.

Video of multi-vehicle crash, I-80 WB new Newton, Iowa (east of Des Moines) #iawx pic.twitter.com/c0u3OBwUII

The continued wind will blow lots of accumulations around and make driving treacherous Tuesday morning in Iowa and Nebraska, Parkinson said.    

The weather service forecast that the snowfall that began around sunset Monday in northern Illinois would get heavier overnight.

A winter weather advisory was issued Monday for northwest Indiana, where the weather service forecast 3 to 5 inches of snow by the time the storm leaves the area Tuesday. A mix of freezing drizzle was expected in the region’s southern area.

Chicago on Monday warned residents that hazardous conditions were likely during Tuesday morning commutes and some power outages were possible. City officials dispatched about 280 salt spreaders to clear main streets and created warming centers in libraries and park facilities for residents who have no power or heat.

By late Monday, 120 flights had been canceled at O’Hare and 48 flights at Midway international airports, with 15-minute delays at both facilities.

Snow was expected to continue in Chicago through the afternoon and would probably leave the region with more than six inches, Parkinson said.     

Gary Mayor Jerome Prince declared a snow emergency late Monday, restricting where vehicles can park and prohibiting the pushing of snow from private property onto city streets. Prince also closed city-owned buildings and facilities until Wednesday.

Many schools and businesses closed Monday as the storm moved across the region. In western Iowa, Missouri Valley Superintendent Brent Hoesing reworked the lyrics of the 1970s hit “I Will Survive” to tell students in his district, “So Stay Inside.”

Officials urged drivers to stay off the roads. Nebraska State Patrol troopers responded to well over 300 weather-related incidents by Monday night, reports CBS Lincoln affiliate KOLN-TV.

Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla said numerous vehicles slid off roads in central Iowa.

“The big thing that people are seeing is that this snow system is packing a big punch,” Dinkla said to the Des Moines Register. “As we have seen this system move into Iowa, the road conditions go from zero snow on the road to an immediate totally covered roadway in just a matter of minutes.”

Iowa state troopers and Des Moines police responded to more than 200 snow-related traffic incidents by Monday night, reports CBS Des Moines affiliate KCCI-TV.

In the Southwest, a storm was forecast to bring gusts and snowfall into Tuesday, the weather service said. Over the weekend, more than a foot of snow fell in Southern California’s mountains, making driving conditions hazardous. Interstate 5 was shut down Monday in the Tejon Pass between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. Wind, snow and ice also forced the closure of State Route 58 through the Tehachapi Pass.

Until recently, California had been experiencing significantly dry weather accompanied by relentless wildfires. A band of clouds suggested more rain could fall Tuesday in areas north and south of San Francisco Bay, bringing the threat of possible flash floods and landslides in areas scarred by the fires.

Sacramento-area National Weather Service forecasters predict an abundance of snow in the Sierra Nevada this week that will make travel difficult.

A major winter storm buried northern Arizona in snow on Monday while sending flurries to the outskirts of Las Vegas and Phoenix.

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