Winter Storm Nika, With more than 118 million Americans under some form of winter weather alert, Winter Storm Nika continues to be the latest wintry headache in what has been a brutal winter.
“This is a very juicy system, and it’s another one of those long-track winter storms that is affecting a huge area of the United States,” said Tom Niziol, winter weather expert for The Weather Channel.
By mid-morning Tuesday, nearly 900 flights within, into or out of the United States were delayed and more than 600 flights were canceled, according to the website Flight Aware.
Here is a rundown of news and notes from the states in line to receive messy weather from Nika.
Forecasters upgraded a winter weather advisory to an ice storm warning after sleet and freezing rain swept into much of central and northern Arkansas. The warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday. The National Weather Service at North Little Rock said ice could accumulate up to a half-inch thick in an area from Mount Ida through Russellville and Little Rock up to Mountain View, Batesville and Hardy. Temperatures are expected to rise Tuesday afternoon and change the winter precipitation to rain. Traffic conditions were already horrible by the time forecasters issued the warning and driving could become even more treacherous, if not impossible. Forecasters say the ice accumulations and winds could combine to bring down tree limbs and power lines, adding to the danger.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has geared up for another round of snow expected to blanket the state. The National Weather Service is forecasting snow accumulation of between five and eight inches throughout Illinois on Tuesday and Wednesday. Winds of up to 25 mph are also expected in some areas. Illinois State Police are urging motorists to drive with caution, noting roads throughout the state will be icy. IDOT officials say there several tips motorists should remember if on the road during the upcoming snowfall. Motorists should allow extra travel time and not drive close behind a snow plow. Motorists should also be aware of black ice, which are icy roads that appear to clear. IDOT also advises motorists to have an emergency car-care kit and blankets in the auto.
Forecasters are predicting several inches of snow to fall across southern Iowa, creating hazardous driving conditions on Tuesday. The snow will be light Tuesday morning then turn into heavy accumulation by afternoon and evening. It’s expected to taper off by Wednesday morning. The National Weather Service says a winter storm warning will be in effect between 9 a.m. Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday. Areas affected range from Corning in southwest Iowa to Ottumwa nearly 120 miles east.
Schools throughout Kansas canceled classes and state government ground to a halt Tuesday as residents dealt with a winter storm that threatened to bring heavy snow accumulation across the state. As much as a foot of snow was expected in Topeka, where lawmakers postponed legislative work and state departments urged workers to stay home. Dry air evaporated much of the snow before it hit the ground. Atmospheric conditions also focused the heaviest snowfalls falling in a wide swath from Hutchinson in central Kansas to Topeka in northeast Kansas, where 3 to 4 inches had already fallen on the ground by early morning.
“Thanks for braving the elements,” Mike Amyx, a barber in downtown Lawrence, told a customer as he exited the shop.
A smaller than normal gathering of parishioners filed in at St. John the Evangelist Church in downtown Lawrence in northeast Kansas. The snow was just starting at the communion service. The Rev. Jeff Ernst left a day earlier for a meeting in Colorado to get ahead of the storm. Sister Marcella asked the 15 people gathered “to pray for all those who have to go to work today in the weather.” The heavier snow began falling as the services ended shortly after 8 a.m. The rest of the university town was moving much slower with schools out for the day.