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Major winter storm blanketed Iowa, Midwest

By Staff | Dec 25, 2009

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A major winter storm rolled over iowa and the Midwest Wednesday, promising to bring a white Christmas to much of the nation’s midsection, while though countless holiday travelers faced slick roads and scattered flight delays and cancellations Wednesday that only looked to get worse.

Snow was forecast across a large swath of the Plains and the Midwest, with a foot or two possible by Christmas Day. The storm also was expected to dump sleet and heavy rain as it treks eastward.

”This is a huge system,” said Rick Hiltbrand, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Chanhassen, Minn. ”It’s just going to kind of sit there through the weekend.”

By late Wednesday morning, parts of Nebraska were coated with ice that was up to 1/4-inch thick.

Jim Myers, who stopped Wednesday at a service station off Interstate 29 in Sioux Falls as he drove from Cheyenne, Wyo., to Hancock, Minn., said he noticed numerous cars that had gone off the road and into the ditch.

A tropical jet stream pumping in moisture from the storm’s south was likely to cause plenty of snow as the storm headed into the Plains and the Midwest. Heavy rain was possible in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys and the Ozarks.

Winter storm warnings stretched from Colorado through the Dakotas and into Minnesota on Wednesday. They also were issued for parts of the Four Corners region.

The winter blast followed a weekend storm that dropped record snowfall and interrupted holiday shopping and travel on the East Coast. Tens of thousands of customers in West Virginia and Virginia remained without power Wednesday.

Holidays travelers and commuters alike were stranded in the Northeast on Wednesday after an electrical problem forced Amtrak to halt trains in and out of New York’s Penn Station. The outage affected service as far south as Washington, D.C., and as far north as Boston.

Power was restored after about three hours, but it wasn’t immediately known how long delays would persist.

Associated Press writers John Hanna in Topeka, Kan., Nate Jenkins in Lincoln, Neb., Eric Olson in Omaha, Neb., Dirk Lammers in Sioux Falls, S.D., Michael J. Crumb in Des Moines, Iowa, Kristen Wyatt in Denver and Mark Carlson in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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