WASHINGTON—A winter storm swept across much of the U.S. Midwest and East Coast on Wednesday, Feb. 20, hampering air travel and prompting officials to close federal offices in Washington and several large public school systems.
The National Weather Service warned the storm could make travel very difficult, with snow, sleet and freezing rain potentially causing downed branches and power outages.
Winter Storm Warnings posted for most of the area (pink). In Southern MD/Fredericksburg area, Winter Weather Advisories…
The storm reached from northern Minnesota down through Missouri and east into the Mid-Atlantic region and could bring as much as 6 inches of snow along with sleet and freezing rain, the National Weather Service said in an advisory.
The storm forced the closing of federal agencies in Washington as well as schools in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.
Due to inclement weather, South Washington County Schools will be closed Wednesday, Feb. 20. All morning activities, including Kids Club, are canceled. An announcement will be made no later than 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20 regarding after school and evening activities. pic.twitter.com/DMGEtRV2ka
— South Washington County Schools (@ISD833) February 20, 2019
Ground, Air Travel Delayed
The winter storm is disrupting ground, air travel in the mid-Atlantic region.
FlightAware.com shows Reagan National Airport leading the country in cancellations Wednesday morning, with 37 percent of departures and 33 percent of arrivals canceled.
Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is seeing about 32 percent of departures and 31 percent of arrivals canceled. Dulles International Airport is seeing about 26 percent of departures and 23 percent of arrivals canceled.
Christina Saull, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates Reagan and Dulles, says many airlines canceled flights ahead of the storm.
Still, Saull says the runways are open and flights are taking off.
BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean says the snow team has been treating and clearing the airfield and despite delays and cancellations, flights are continuing.
Runways at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport were temporarily closed as fast-falling snow from the latest winter storm tested plow drivers who tried to keep up.
MSP spokesman John Welbes says “the rate of snowfall is the challenge.” Forecasters expected snowfall rates of an inch per hour with accumulations of up to 10 inches.
Minneapolis and St. Paul schools are among the scores of districts in Minnesota, Wisconsin and elsewhere that canceled classes Wednesday.
Forecasters are warning residents in parts of Minnesota and western Wisconsin the advancing winter storm could produce up to 9 inches of snow.
Minneapolis and St. Paul schools are among scores of districts that canceled classes Wednesday. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for much of central and southern Minnesota, through eastern South Dakota and into western Wisconsin.
The Twin Cities is in store for its snowiest February on record by the time the storm subsides. The area already has 22.6 inches of snow this month. Wednesday’s snowfall will likely break a record of 26.5 inches in February set back in 1962.
The heaviest accumulation is expected Wednesday morning when snowfall rates of an inch per hour were expected.
— Washington Informer (@DC_Informer) February 20, 2019
The South, Especially Tennessee, Will Get Wet
A moist, warmer air mass is bringing heavy rain, possibly through the end of the week, from the Ohio Valley into the Southeast. Flood or flash flood watches will extend from northern Alabama and Mississippi northward to Ohio.
— Ron Smiley ???? (@RonSmileyWx) February 20, 2019
Rain has already hit the region, and forecasters say to expect 2 to 4 more inches of rain, with 5 to 7 inches predicted in parts of Tennessee, including Memphis and Nashville, through the end of the week.
Birmingham, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky; and Charleston, West Virginia, also face the threat of significant flooding.
More flooding further west on Penny Road pic.twitter.com/5ACme3zZwZ
— Saint Joseph Police Department (@police_saint) February 20, 2019
Multiple waves of rain will affect North Georgia this week. Atlanta is likely to receive 2 to 3 inches of rain, with higher amounts expected in the mountains to the north.
Parts of northern Alabama saw flash flood warnings on Tuesday night. The Birmingham office of the National Weather Service said some areas may get 5 inches of rain by Friday morning.
Reuters & CNN contributed to this report.
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