DENVER (Colorado) • A cluster of powerful storms is set to disrupt Thanksgiving holiday travel for the western United States, with heavy snow leading to cancelled flights in Denver and a higher risk of mudslides in parts of California.
Winter storm warnings and advisories cover the western region from Oregon to Arizona and a flash flood watch stretches from north of Anaheim to the border with Mexico, the National Weather Service said.
Parts of the Rockies were blanketed with over 30cm of snow, with blizzard-like conditions.
The Arctic blast comes as millions of Americans make travel plans for the Thanksgiving holiday today.
“Travel will be very difficult to impossible, including on Wednesday and Thanksgiving,” the weather service said. “Damage to trees and power lines is possible.”
A powerful Pacific storm will rake the coast of northern California and Oregon, with gusts of up to 110kmh. It will bring heavy rain and snow far into southern California, where it could raise the risk of mudslides, said Mr Brian Hurley, a senior branch forecaster at the US Weather Prediction Centre in College Park, Maryland.
A wide area of southern California could see 5cm to 7.5cm of rain, and snow could fall heavily at the tops of the mountains around San Bernardino until tomorrow.
Some areas could get as much as 152cm of snow, Mr Hurley said.
Denver could get upwards of 25cm of snow and be raked by winds reaching 70kmh as the winter storms spark blizzard warnings across eastern Colorado and parts of Wyoming, the National Weather Service said.
Denver International Airport’s Twitter account reported more than 17cm of snow early on Tuesday morning.
Travel will be very difficult to impossible, including on Wednesday and Thanksgiving. Damage to trees and power lines is possible.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, in its warning ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
As of 1pm New York time, 564 flights into or around the US were cancelled, with more than 475 of them through Denver, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company.
Denver saw the most cancelled flights anywhere in the world on Tuesday, according to the FlightAware website.
The Colorado Department of Transportation reported “treacherous” road conditions and multiple closures, including along Interstate 70. Denver is a key transit hub between the East and West coasts of America.
The heaviest snow will be at higher elevations in the Rocky Mountains, said Mr Hurley.
One storm is set to move east into the central Great Plains and northern Midwest, where warnings and advisories stretch all the way to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
South of the snow track, high winds could race across New Mexico and Texas and eventually reach western Pennsylvania and New York this morning, the weather service said.