Posted: Dec 27, 2012 9:08 AM by CBS News
CONCORD, N.H. - A powerful winter storm brought snow to inland parts of the Northeast and driving rain and wind to areas along the coast Thursday, a day after it swept through the nation's middle, dumping a record snowfall in Arkansas and ruining holiday travel plans for thousands.
The storm, which was blamed for 12 deaths, pushed through the Upper Ohio Valley and made its way into the Northeast Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, there was anywhere from a few inches of snow to a foot in some locations.
National Weather Service spokesman David Roth said the Northeast's heaviest snowfall would be in northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and inland sections of several New England states before the storm ended Friday morning and headed to Canada.
The East Coast's largest cities -- New York, Philadelphia and Boston -- were seeing mostly high winds and rain Thursday morning. Other areas were getting a messy mix of rain and snow or just rain -- enough to slow down commuters and those still heading home from visits with family.
"The way I've been describing it is as a low-end blizzard, but that's sort of like saying a small Tyrannosaurus rex," said John Kwiatkowski, an Indianapolis-based meteorologist with the weather service.
Thousands of travelers were trying to make it home Thursday after the fierce storm stranded them at airports or relatives' homes around the region. Some inbound flights were delayed in Philadelphia and New York's LaGuardia, but the wet and windy weather wasn't leading to delays at other major East Coast airports.
A flight that landed safely in Pittsburgh during the storm Wednesday night got stuck in snow for about two hours on the tarmac.
The storm system spawned Gulf Coast region tornadoes on Christmas Day, startling people like Bob and Sherry Sims of Mobile, Alabama, who'd just finished dinner.
"We heard that very distinct sound, like a freight train," said Bob Sims. They headed for a center bathroom.
Power was still out at the Sims' home on Wednesday, but the house wasn't damaged and they used a generator to run heaters to stay warm. Some neighbors were less fortunate, their roofs peeled away and porches smashed by falling trees.
The storm also left freezing temperatures in its aftermath, and forecasters said parts of the Southeast from Virginia to Florida saw severe thunderstorms.
Schools on break and workers taking holiday vacations meant that many people could avoid messy commutes, but those who had to travel were urged to avoid it. Snow was blamed for scores of vehicle accidents as far east as Maryland, and about two dozen counties in Indiana and Ohio issued snow emergency travel alerts, urging people to go out on the roads only if necessary. About two dozen counties in Indiana and Ohio issued snow emergency travel alerts, urging people to go out on the roads only if necessary.
About 40 vehicles got bogged down trying to make it up a slick hill in central Indiana, and four state snowplows slid off roads as snow fell at the rate of 3 inches an hour in some places.
Roads in the Indianapolis area were still slick and icy Wednesday night, reports CBS Indianapolis affiliate WISH-TV. The station says travel warnings were still in effect for a wide swath of central Indiana.
Officials in Ohio blamed the bad weather for a crash that killed an 18-year-old girl, who lost control of her car Wednesday afternoon and smashed into an oncoming snow plow on a highway northeast of Cincinnati.
A man and a woman in Evansville, Ind., were killed when the scooter they were riding went out of control on a snowy street Wednesday and they were hit by a pickup truck.
Two passengers in a car on a sleet-slickened Arkansas highway were killed Wednesday in a head-on collision, and two people, including a 76-year-old Milwaukee woman, were killed Tuesday on Oklahoma highways. Deaths from wind-toppled trees were reported in Texas and Louisiana. Other storm-related deaths include a man checking on a disabled vehicle near Allentown, Pa., who was struck and killed Wednesday night, and two people killed in separate crashes in Virginia.
The day after Christmas wasn't expected to be particularly busy for AAA, but its Cincinnati-area branch had its busiest Wednesday of the year. By mid-afternoon, nearly 400 members had been helped with tows, jump starts and other aid, with calls still coming in, spokesman Mike Mills said.
In Arkansas, some of the nearly 200,000 people who lost power could be without it for as long as a week because of snapped poles and wires after ice and 10 inches of snow coated power lines, said the state's largest utility, Entergy Arkansas.
Gov. Mike Beebe, who declared a statewide emergency, sent out National Guard teams, and Humvees transported medical workers and patients. Snow hadn't fallen in Little Rock on Christmas since 1926, but the capital ended Tuesday with 10.3 inches of it.
Other states also had scattered outages.
As usual, winter-sports enthusiasts welcomed the snow. At Smiling Hill Farm in Maine, Warren Knight was hoping for enough snow to allow the opening of trails.
"We watch the weather more carefully for cross-country skiing than we do for farming. And we're pretty diligent about farming. We're glued to the weather radio," said Knight, who described the weather at the 500-acre farm in Westbrook as being akin to the prizes in "Cracker Jacks -- we don't know what we're going to get.