Winter Storm Kills Eight And Disrupts Travel

Winter Storm Kills Eight And Disrupts Travel

A winter storm has killed eight people and caused travel misery as it sweeps across the United States.

The powerful weather system, which dumped more than half a metre of snow in parts of Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri earlier this week, has been moving steadily eastwards towards New England.

More than 30cm of rain are likely in northeastern states, with several feet of snow set to fall over higher ground.

Driving conditions were so dangerous, the National Weather Service urged people to travel only in an emergency.

"Strong winds will cause blowing and drifting, causing near blizzard conditions," it warned.

Earlier this week in Iowa, a 25-vehicle crash on a major highway left two people dead and seven injured. Emergency crews brought food and water to motorists left stranded in the cars.

In neighbouring Wisconsin, two people died when their car slid into a lorry, while an ambulance transporting a woman in labour became stranded in snow. A second ambulance sent to help was also caught out by the weather, so a third was dispatched behind a snowplough to get the woman to hospital.

Further west in Utah, a woman whose car got stuck on an isolated road died of exposure after walking to find help, while in Nebraska and Kansas, three people were killed in separate crashes.

On Friday - the busiest travel day of the year - skies were clear in Chicago, where 270,000 people were expected to pass through airports.

However, high winds in New York and San Francisco grounded nearly 500 flights.

Meanwhile, another storm is raging in northern California and Oregon. The National Weather Service said heavy snow is possible as far west as Montana, Wyoming and Colorado by Christmas Eve.