A massive winter snowstorm blanketed much of the western U.S. on Sunday as parts of the South saw unseasonably warm temperatures, breaking record highs in some cities on Christmas Day.

The National Weather Service announced winter storm warnings across the West Coast on Sunday, stretching from the Canadian to the Mexican border. 

Snow and ice caused widespread problems at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. About 27% of flights Sunday were canceled and and 39% were delayed, according to the tracking website FlightAware, which doesn’t specify causes.

Airlines are struggling with cancellations and delays over the holidays due to staffing shortages caused by the omicron variant.

The snowstorm slammed the Reno-Tahoe region, dumping several inches of snow in the Reno area and several feet at Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

A 70-mile stretch of Interstate 80 in western California was closed through at least Monday, and other major roads were closed because of dangerous conditions.

“Expect major travel delays on all roads,” the National Weather Service office in Reno, Nevada, said Sunday on Twitter. “Today is the type of day to just stay home if you can. More snow is on the way too!”

The weather service issued a winter storm warning for greater Lake Tahoe until 1 a.m. Tuesday because of possible “widespread whiteout conditions” and wind gusts that could top 45 mph.

Sunday morning, the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District in Washoe County, where Reno is located, reported at least three people were transported to hospitals after a 20-car wreck.  

California was closed by rockslides after heavy rainfall in California. The highway is located south of San Francisco Bay Area, and runs for more than 40 miles. It was impossible to estimate the time it would take for the scenic stretch, often shut down by wet weather.

California Department of Transportation shut down other roads, warning motorists of slippery conditions.

AccuWeather forecasted that snow will continue to fall across Central and Northern California on Monday, and it will extend to Idaho’s Snake River Valley, Salt Lake City and western Wyoming. A second storm is expected to move in Oregon and California Tuesday.

The National Weather Service expects the Sierra Nevada to see an additional two to five feet of snow through Tuesday. Other ranges such as the Shasta, the Oregon Cascades, the Wasatch, Tetons, and Colorado Rockies can expect anywhere from one to two feet of additional snow.

However, in Southern U.S. it wasn’t a white Christmas. There were warm temperatures throughout the region. 

Little Rock, Arkansas, broke a 79-year-record on Christmas Day as its high of 78 degrees Fahrenheit broke the prior record of 73 degrees, the National Weather Service.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport reached 81 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, setting a Christmas Day record for North Texas, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. In 2016, the previous record stood at 80°.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center issued a warning of fire weather across parts of the central and southern High Plains, including the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, due to the “mixing of unusually warm temperatures, low humidity levels, and windy conditions.”

The Weather Channel said the unseasonable warmth in the South will likely carry into midweek.

Contributing: The Associated Press; Siobhan McAndrew, Reno Gazette Journal; Kimberly Rubenstein, Kitsap Sun; The Register-Guard

Source: USAToday.com


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