Winter's reach: Southwest gets snow, California awaits storm

Updated at: 02/28/2015 3:21 PM
Associated Press

(AP) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Parts of the Southwest dealt with a second day of snow Saturday as Californians spent the day waiting for the start of a storm that was expected to bring much-needed rain for much of the state.

Sections of central and northern New Mexico received a record-breaking snowfall overnight, with more expected throughout the weekend, weather officials said. More snow and rain is expected in the state's north-central and northwest areas, with the impact hitting the northern mountains, meteorologist Todd Shoemake said.

Albuquerque, however, should see a lighter snowfall Saturday, though residents might not be able to tell. "Most of Albuquerque has had anywhere from 4 to 10 inches of snow. It's really kind of crippled the city," Shoemake said.

Albuquerque and Santa Fe have received as much as 1 inch of snow per hour for several hours since Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The Weather Service said a "snow band" developed over both cities, which have been brought to a standstill by slick and icy roads.

Southern California's suffering ski resorts could get a healthy dose of snow this weekend. Up to a foot of snow could fall from Saturday through Monday in the San Bernardino and Angeles national forests. That follows a spell of dry weather that had some ski resorts talking about closing.

The heaviest rain was expected to fall on Northern California late Sunday, reaching the southern part of the state sometime Sunday.

In the Midwest and central part of the U.S., various states, including Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Kansas, experienced a mix of freezing rain and snow on Saturday.

The arctic winter weather system had led to several record-breaking cold temperature readings in Iowa. Mason City, Iowa, hit a record low of 18 degrees below zero at 6 a.m. Friday, shattering its 115-year-old record for Feb. 27 of 12-below, set in 1899, the National Weather Service said. Waterloo also reached a record low of 24-below zero on Friday. The previous record of 14-below was set in 1897.

A dusting of snow could be seen starting Saturday afternoon overnight into Sunday for central and parts of eastern Nebraska, with some heavier snow in the southern portions of the state. That light snow was expected to quickly move into Iowa, with heavier amounts near the southern border with Missouri.

According to the National Weather Service, freezing rain would be possible on Sunday in the southern parts of Illinois, Missouri and Ohio. Snow was forecast for parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

In other parts of the country, flights were canceled because of ice on the runways, snow collapsed a skating rink roof in Massachusetts, and local governments readied for what was to come.

STUCK IN DALLAS

In Texas, freezing rain for the second consecutive day left highways slick and forced the cancellation of nearly another 1,000 flights Saturday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the nation's biggest airline hubs.

The chaos Saturday was on top of about 600 flights nixed Friday, forcing about 5,000 travelers to spend the night at the airport, spokesman David Magana said. The airport provided cots, blankets and toiletries to the passengers, plus kept concession stands open overnight, Magana said.

"As it is with travel, we just have to take everything with stride, and you know there's no controlling these situations. You just have to see what happens," said Eric Melzer, who was at the airport on Saturday trying to find out if he would be able to fly to Minnesota.

Freezing rain coated an area stretching from about 40 miles north of Austin up to the Dallas area, said Anthony Bain, a weather service forecaster based in Fort Worth. Temperatures were expected to be above freezing by late Saturday afternoon and into the upper 40s on Sunday, Bain said. Rain was expected on Sunday for much of Texas, as well as Arkansas and Oklahoma.

RINK ROOF COLLAPSES

A youth hockey team escaped without injury when part of a snow-weighted roof collapsed at a Canton, Massachusetts, skating rink on Saturday morning, officials said.

Police said the rear portion of the roof at the Metropolis Skating Rink began to fail as a Norwood youth team was inside. But the team was able to get out along with parents and rink workers. All are safe and accounted for.

Witnesses said they heard a series of loud bangs before the collapse that alerted them to get out.

NEW YORK CITY GETS READY

New York City's sanitation department has issued a snow alert for Sunday starting after noon. Snowplows, salt spreaders and staff are ready to go into action to clear a possible few inches.

RELIEF FROM SIDEWALK CLEARING

Boulder, Colorado, is temporarily waiving fines and fees for residents who do not clear their public sidewalks because of the extreme weather conditions. The city doesn't want people getting hurt trying remove thick ice and snow, code enforcement supervisor Jennifer Riley said. The city usually gives residents 24 hours to clear their sidewalks, beginning once the National Weather Service declares a snowstorm over, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.

Residents who fail to clear the sidewalks usually are liable for a civil penalty and the cost of a contractor to remove the snow.

ARIZONA MISSES BIG SNOW

Northern Arizona has evaded getting hit by what was expected to be the biggest winter storm to date.

The National Weather Service said Saturday that snow and rain fell overnight in a scattered fashion across the region thanks to warmer air. Flagstaff, which was expected to get 17 inches of snow by the end of the weekend, received only half an inch in the morning. Meteorologists say warm air heading into central and northern Arizona pushed snowfall to higher elevated areas. But a cold front is expected to arrive on Monday and possibly bring several inches of snow.

The storm system in California was predicted to spread moisture eastward to Arizona and New Mexico by Saturday night.

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