‘Bomb cyclone’: Heavy storms, snow jeopardize U.S. Thanksgiving travel

Heavy snow and wind shut down highways Tuesday in Colorado and Wyoming, closed schools in Nebraska and forced more than 1,000 travellers to sleep overnight in Denver’s airport after hundreds of flights were cancelled just as Thanksgiving travel moved into high gear.

The storm was heading to South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, while a “bomb cyclone” weather phenomenon began toppling trees, knocking out power and dumping snow as it barrelled into California and Oregon — making for a double whammy of early wintry weather.

Authorities on both sides of the California-Oregon border reported numerous crashes and closed roads. The National Weather Service urged people to wait to travel for the holiday until the weather improves.

At Denver International Airport, about 10 inches (25 centimetres) of snow mixed with winds that limited visibility prompted the cancellation of about 30 per cent of the airport’s average daily 1,600 flights.

The storm dumped nearly 3 feet (1 metre) of snow in parts of northern Colorado and closed long stretches of highways there and in Wyoming. One person was killed, and two others were injured when a tractor-trailer jackknifed and was hit by two other trucks on Interstate 70 near the Colorado ski town of Vail.

The system moved east, allowing the Denver airport to begin returning to normal.

Southwest Airlines cancelled about 200 flights. Spokesman Brad Hawkins said it would take “a couple of days” to get stranded passengers on other flights because there are few during the pre-Thanksgiving travel crush. That makes it hard for airlines to rebook passengers.

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