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29 May 2024

Snowstorm blamed for 11 deaths, widespread power outages in central US

By Agencies


A winter storm has killed at least 11 people in the central US, with heavy snow and howling wind making highways hazardous for holiday travelers and leaving thousands of homes and businesses without electricity.

Winter storm warnings were posted for parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan on Sunday as the core of the storm headed north across the Great Lakes. Parts of Wisconsin already had a foot of snow, and up to a foot was forecast Sunday in northeastern Minnesota, the National Weather Service said.

“Everything is just an ice rink out there,” said Sergeant Steve Selby with the sheriff’s department in Rock County, Wisconsin.

The weather system also spread locally heavy rain on Sunday from the Southeast to the lower Great Lakes.

Wind gusting to more than 80 kilometres per hour (kph) uprooted trees in parts of Michigan. “I can see the snow moving basically sideways,” meteorologist Wayne Hoepner said in Grand Rapids.

Winds were recorded blowing as fast as 88 kph over Lake Michigan with gusts of 50 to 68 miles per hour across the Chicago region, according to the National Weather Service.

Because of the wind, airlines canceled more than 250 flights Sunday at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the city Aviation Department said. Municipal officials said the wind had knocked out nearly 170 traffic signals, and there were more than 500 reports of fallen trees and limbs.

More than 11,000 homes and businesses were without power at some point Saturday in Wisconsin because of the freezing rain, ice, gusty wind and heavy snow, utilities said. Michigan utilities reported some 74,500 customers were still without power Sunday night, and in Illinois about 24,000 customers were blacked out.

At least three people in Minnesota, three in Wyoming, three in Wisconsin and one person each in Texas and Kansas were killed in traffic accidents that authorities said stemmed from the storm. (AP)