Massive Storm Could Halt Some Thanksgiving Vacations

By: CBS NEWS, (posted by Justin Surrency)
By: CBS NEWS, (posted by Justin Surrency)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A powerful storm system blasted the Western U.S. with strong winds, freezing rain and snow, causing hundreds of car crashes and leading to at least eight deaths.

The fierce weather was expected to pound the Southwest again, then march across the South and head east, reaching the Atlantic coast by the middle of next week -- just in time to snarl Thanksgiving holiday travel.

On "CBS This Morning: Saturday," Eric Fisher, chief meteorologist at CBS station WBZ-TV in Boston, reported that the same storm could cause major travel delays on the day before Thanksgiving by bringing heavy rain and wind to the East Coast and heavy wet, snow to Pennsylvania, upstate New York and New England.

In New Mexico, freezing rain and snow covered much of the state. A 4-year-old girl was killed Friday night when her family's car slid across U.S. Highway 70 and rolled over. State police said the girl and another child had been sleeping in the back seat and were not secured by seat belts or car seats, CBS affiliate KRQE-TV reports.

Three other storm-related deaths were reported Saturday in a crash in the Texas Panhandle involving nearly a dozen vehicles.

In California, where the storm system hit first, prompting flooding and water rescues in recent days, three deaths have been linked to the storms since Thursday. Authorities found one body near downed power lines, one man crashed his vehicle into a tree, and a woman was killed when a tree fell on a parked car.
In Arizona, firefighters recovered the body of a man who was swept away by high waters Friday in the Santa Cruz River in the southern part of the state.

In Texas, three members of Willie Nelson's band were hurt when their bus hit a bridge pillar on Interstate 30 near Sulphur Springs, about 75 miles northeast of Dallas. The Texas Department of Public Safety said Nelson was not on the bus. A Nelson spokeswoman said the singer has suspended his tour for the rest of the month.

In Nevada, snow in higher elevations in rural, eastern Lincoln County stranded 50 to 60 cars early Friday, dispatcher Shannon Miller said. No injuries were reported, but U.S. 93 was closed south of Ely. Sheriff's dispatchers said early Saturday that the roadway had been reopened, but the office did not have any information on the stranded cars.

The wet conditions prompted the Arizona Interscholastic Association to push back high school football playoff games set for Friday and Saturday. Officials rescheduled the games to Monday "due to the weather conditions, field conditions and safety of the players and fans attending the games."

In northern Utah, transportation officials warned truck drivers of potential trailer-toppling gusts. Heavy snow was falling Saturday in southern Utah, where police warned that driving conditions were hazardous.

"I'm telling you it's crazy out here and people need to slow down," Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower told The Spectrum newspaper.

More than a foot of snow was forecast for northern Arizona.
CBS/AP


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