Blizzard conditions threaten to disrupt travel across the northern plains

More than a million people were under a blizzard warning in the northern Great Plains on Monday, with forecasters warning that heavy snow and powerful winds could disrupt flights and create treacherous road conditions.

Central South Dakota, where more than a foot of snow was possible, was expected to bear the brunt of the storm. Hazardous conditions are also forecast for parts of east-central and southeastern South Dakota, southern North Dakota and Nebraska, said Kyle Weiser, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, SD.

Parts of South Dakota are expected to get 13 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 55 mph, according to the weather service.

“Travel is very difficult and impossible,” said the meteorologists warned in an advisoryMentions that “widespread blowing snow” will significantly reduce visibility.

South Dakota Department of Transportation said in a press release Conditions on snow and ice-covered roads were “close to zero visibility” Monday afternoon, prompting officials to close parts of Interstate 90 beginning Tuesday morning.

A crash involving several jackknife tractor-trailers forced the closure of a section of eastbound Interstate 80 near York, Neb., for about three hours Monday afternoon, the Nebraska State Patrol said. There were no injuries in the crash, which was caused in part by snow and slick road conditions, Nebraska State Patrol spokesman Cody Thomas said in a statement.

About 60 “weather-related incidents” occurred on Interstate 80 in Nebraska on Monday, Mr. Thomas said, mostly between Lincoln and North Platte.

“We urge all travelers to assess whether their journey is absolutely necessary or not before hitting the road,” he said.

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Forecasters warned that strong winds, especially in South Dakota, could damage trees and cause power outages with the risk of downed power lines.

Heavy snow is expected in central South Dakota from 2pm to 10pm local time, the weather service said. Strong winds and snow will continue overnight, especially in the central part of the state, forecasters said. A blizzard warning remained in effect until Tuesday night.

North Dakota and Nebraska will receive more freezing rain, forecasters said, which will cause slushy conditions.

The effects of the storm are expected to be felt as far west as Colorado and as far south as Kansas, where up to eight inches of snow and winds of up to 60 mph are possible. Blizzard conditions are expected in northern and northwestern Kansas through early Wednesday morning, the weather service said.

Vacationers who expected to hit the road Monday afternoon may want to adjust their plans, Mr. Weiser said.

“Depending on which direction you're going, if you haven't left yet, you'll have to wait until tomorrow,” he said.

Mr. Weiser said. However, strong winds could still be an issue for drivers, he said.

“Even if there's not a lot of snow, if the wind is 30 to 40 miles per hour, you can still reduce visibility significantly,” he said.

The impact on air travel at the beginning of the storm appeared to be relatively moderate. As of Monday afternoon, fewer than 160 flights into, within or out of the United States had been canceled. FlightAware. Around 2,240 flights across the country were delayed. The Sioux Falls Regional Airport encouraged travelers to check with their airlines for information about any cancellations or delays.

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Eduardo Medina Contributed report.

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