Deadly winter storm inches toward northeastern US

Storm that has led to at least 14 deaths threatens holiday travel plans

Workers remove a tree that fell on Jack Sullivan's Cutlass parked in the driveway of his Odessa, Texas, home, on Monday.
Mark Sterkel/AP

A major winter storm set to hit the East Coast on Tuesday and Wednesday is threatening to dump snow and heavy rains, potentially snarling millions of Thanksgiving travelers' holiday plans, forecasters said on Tuesday.

The same storm that lashed New Mexico and the southern Plains with snow and ice over the weekend is spreading heavy rain across the South as it moves towards the Northeast ahead of the Thursday holiday, the National Weather Service said.

The Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and northern New York could get 6 to 12 inches of snow on Wednesday before the storm moves into western Maine on Thursday, meteorologists are predicting.

Some 39 million people are expected to travel by road from Wednesday to Sunday, centering around Thanksgiving Day, according to travel group AAA.

After it finally dies down, the storm will have affected practically the entire nation, with sleet and 50 mph winds in New Mexico, 10 inches of snow dumped on northern Texas and even high surf mounting along Florida’s beaches. In total, 33 states have experienced whiteout conditions.

At least 14 people were killed in storm-related accidents over the weekend in Oklahoma, Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona.

Freezing rain and bad weather from the Plains contributed to the cancellation of 378 airline flights in the United States on Monday, most of them at Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks delays and cancellations.

Colorado Springs police remain on high alert in response to dangerous road conditions that have caused numerous car wrecks.

In western New York, first responders who joined forces to save a hunter trapped waist deep in rapidly freezing waters had to be extracted by hovercraft and helicopter when they became stuck themselves.

The storm may claim another casualty if high winds ground the giant character balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. City rules bar the huge balloons from flying when sustained winds top 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph.

Al Jazeera with wire services

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