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Much of U.S. covered by snow

Dec. 28, 2012 at 5:53 PM   |   Comments

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Almost two-thirds of the continental United States had snow cover Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

A winter storm that hit some areas hard and delivered unusual early snow to parts of the South has been blamed for 11 deaths. The storm also fouled highways and disrupted air travel.

Bonnie Schneider, a CNN meteorologist, described the widespread snow as unusual, especially so early in the winter. She said that last winter the top snow coverage was 48 percent in the Lower 48 states -- compared to 65 percent Friday -- and that was in February.

By early Friday, half an inch of snow had been reported in Dallas this winter, the Chicago Tribune said. What was really unusual was that the Texas city outpaced Chicago, which usually averages about 8 inches of snow by late December and had recorded 0.4 inches.

By Friday afternoon, light snow in Chicago put it ahead, with 0.7 inches.

Another storm was moving east. Weather forecasters said portions of northern Maine could receive more than a foot of snow Friday while Canadians prepared for whiteout conditions, CNN reported.

AccuWeather.com said the storm was expected to pick up strength when it neared the Atlantic Ocean and turns north. How quickly it gathers steam will determine how heavy the snow, wind, seas and tides become over New England and part of Canada Saturday night into Sunday.

"An all-out blizzard appears likely over portions of the Maritime Provinces on Sunday," Canada weather forecaster Brett Anderson said.

Light-to-moderate snowfall was expected for parts of the Ohio Valley Friday into Saturday and then the central Appalachians and the Interstate-95 mid-Atlantic corridor Saturday into Saturday evening, AccuWeather.com said.

Storm-related incidents this week killed 10 people, including two children in Arkansas and an 81-year-old Alabama man, officials said.

As the storm ends its weeklong journey across the United States, total snow accumulations of up to 2 feet were possible in central Maine, creating hazardous roads because of blowing and drifting snow and poor visibility, forecasters said.

The storm left thousands of passengers stranded after flight cancellations.

On Thursday, flight-tracker FlightAware.com reported more than 1,200 flights were canceled.

Greyhound shut down six bus routes in the Northeast because of Thursday's snow.

The storm triggered multi-vehicle jams and other traffic nightmares across the Midwest and Northeast. Jim DeMarino told CNN a typical four-hour drive from Pittsburgh to northern Virginia took eight hours.

DeMarino also said highways were "scattered with abandoned, crashed and disabled vehicles."

The storm system that dumped heavy snow in the Midwest and Northeast triggered up to 30 tornadoes on Christmas across the Southeast.

In Dallas, the system brought a rare white Christmas, CNN said.

"We knew it was going to be a white Christmas in Dallas this year as per the weather advisory, but were not aware it will turn out to be so beautiful and freezing cold," Shail Bhatt told the cable news network.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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