Winter weather disrupts travel plans


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Drifting snow and cold rain that have plagued much of the country for days stranded drivers and airline passengers Saturday trying to get home after Christmas.

Storms from Texas to the Upper Midwest that dumped 23.9 inches of snow in Grand Forks, N.D., and 18 inches near Norfolk, Neb., began subsiding, but blowing and drifting snow hampered visibility in many areas.

Higher temperatures and rains in the East began melting and washing away last week’s record-setting snowfalls, threatening the region with flooding.

A woman and her teenage daughter in Middletown, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, were rescued from a rain-swollen creek after their SUV went off the road Saturday. Rescue workers found the 14-year-old clinging to a log; her mother was trapped in the vehicle.

Authorities in southeast Missouri were searching for a woman who washed away in a ditch on Christmas Eve as heavy rains showered the region.

In Chicago, one of the nation’s busiest travel hubs, snow and ice along with rain on the East Coast canceled or delayed more than 50 flights.

Flights also were delayed at the three major airports in the New York area, which was getting rain and patchy fog.

Most delays there were weather-related, but some were worsened by stricter security precautions after an airplane-bombing attempt in Detroit, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the area’s airports.

Transportation officials closed a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 70 between Goodland, Kan., and Burlington, Colo. Officials also have closed interstate highways in Nebraska, the Dakotas and Wyoming, but some reopened as the storm began to abate.

The University of Nebraska- Lincoln marching band canceled its bus trip to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl. The band had been scheduled to perform Wednesday as the Cornhuskers face the Arizona Wildcats.

In South Dakota, state troopers assisted 182 people who were stranded in their vehicles or needed help getting through snowy roads, Col. Dan Mosteller said.

South Dakota officials reported several roof collapses from the weight of the snow, including a livestock barn near Baltic, where at least 25 cattle were trapped and some of them killed.

Meanwhile, parts of the East began preparations for possible flooding as rain or freezing rain fell and temperatures rose, helping to melt snow in areas where as much as 2 feet fell last weekend.

The National Weather Service posted a freezing-rain advisory through the afternoon Saturday for parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

As temperatures rose, forecasters expected the precipitation to change completely to rain throughout most of the region.

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