Blizzards are affecting much of the Great Lakes region this weekend, and the National Weather Service says it's "shaping up to be a historic storm." The snow is just one part of a massive storm system affecting areas from the Gulf Coast to northern Wisconsin and Michigan.
The National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories that cover northern Kansas, central and eastern Nebraska, southeastern South Dakota, southern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. High wind warnings cover much of Kansas. In the gulf region, a flash flood watch is in effect across south Mississippi and southeast Louisiana, and rainfall exceeding 6 inches is possible in some areas where multiple bands of thunderstorms may intersect. A tornado watch was also in effect in those areas earlier Saturday.
The National Weather Service also predicts that in southern Minnesota, snow could accumulate as quickly as 1 to 2 inches per hour Saturday afternoon. Total accumulations of 9 to 15 inches of snow are expected. According to the flight-tracking site FlightAware.com, over 380 flights have been cancelled Saturday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has closed several highways.
Interstate 90 and Interstate 29 in South Dakota were also closed, according to the AP. Huron, S.D., has received 18 inches of snow and 8 to 12 inches are expected to fall on the state's southeastern corner by Sunday morning.
The AP also reports that "hail stones the size of hen eggs" fell south of Dallas and Forth Worth, Texas. In Texas and Oklahoma, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning because of extremely high fire danger.
According to the Associated Press, there have been at least three storm-related deaths: A 61-year-old man died after a truck accident in western Nebraska, a 2-year-old girl died in Louisiana after a tree fell onto her family's mobile home and a woman in Wisconsin was killed when her minivan lost control and hit an incoming SUV.
Parts of the east coast, including those that are experiencing sunny weather and temperatures in the 70s and 80s on Saturday, will soon feel the effects of this storm as well. Severe thunderstorms are expected across the South and mid-Atlantic. Farther north, a Winter Weather Advisory is already in effect in parts of New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania, where mixed precipitation is expected through Sunday.