SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota ( Associated Press) – A massive winter storm slammed into the central United States Monday, threatening millions of people with heavy snow, rain and flooding.
The National Weather Service warned that “several widespread and high-impact weather hazards could occur across the heart of the country this week.” Residents from Idaho to Wisconsin and as far south as Louisiana have been warned to prepare for blizzard conditions in the north and flash flooding in the south.
By Tuesday, Texas and northern Louisiana could be affected by severe hail, winds and tornadoes. According to forecasters, the storm will continue to move from the southeast of the country towards Florida in the next few days.
“It’s going to be a busy week as this system moves across the country,” said Mark Chenard, National Weather Service meteorologist in College Park, Maryland.
Officials in western South Dakota asked residents to prepare for 6 inches (15 cm) or more of snow on Monday. “Keep your shoelaces handy, buy your groceries, and check other essential supplies. The streets will be difficult to navigate,” he warned.
Snow storm warnings were issued Monday for areas stretching along the range of the Rockies, from Montana south to Colorado, with the National Weather Service saying up to 61 are possible. Parts of western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska received centimeters (2 ft) of snow. Meanwhile, snow and hail were forecast for the Eastern Great Plains.
The weather conditions are part of the same system that dumped large amounts of snow in the Sierra Nevada over the weekend, while rain in low-lying areas prompted the issuance of a flood watch for wide swaths from California to Nevada.
The Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe suspended some operations on Saturday when the storm hit. The resort posted a video showing the chairlifts swinging violently in winds of up to 100 mph (161 kph), as well as a reminder for people to wind down the closures. A tweet has also been done. “They’re always there for your protection.”
The Central Sierra Snow Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley campus in Soda Springs, California, reported Sunday morning that more than 43 inches (110 cm) of snow had fallen in a 48-hour period.