Wind-driven Snow & Cold Grip West, Plains

By: Nick Viviani
By: Nick Viviani

(CBS) -- There is an early winter storm threatening millions of people in the Western United States. Snow is falling from the Rocky Mountains to the Northern Plains. The storm blasted Boulder, Colo., overnight with strong winds and heavy snow. Up to 15 inches could fall in the Denver area today, winter storm warnings are in effect in 10 states and the storm has turned deadly in Minnesota.

Nina Moini, from Minneapolis station WCCO, told the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts that snow has been falling in across the state for much of the night and a winter storm warning is in effect there until 6 a.m. Thursday.

This lengthy storm has already blanketed parts of northern Minnesota with as much as 26 inches of snow. Moini said that at least four drivers have been killed in weather-related crashes this week and dozens of schools in Minnesota are closed or delayed throughout the state today.

Police in the state are urging drivers to stay off the roads if they can as visibility will be reduced to less than a mile in some places and the combination of strong winds and heavy snow could result in downed trees and power outages.

Moini said that the snow is expected to continue falling throughout the day in the area, so there will be plenty of snow left to shovel before a deep freeze sets in. High temperatures this weekend are expected to be only in the single digits.

This storm is also giving drivers problems in the West. Reno, Nev., got several inches of snow Tuesday and some parts of Calif. are bracing for the coldest temperatures in 15 years. Much of the country can expect freezing temperatures by the weekend.

Meteorologist Megan Glaros of CBS station WBBM in Chicago said that people in the West and the plains should expect a “major storm system.”

She said that it will wrap up in the Rockies on Wednesday, but the storm will continue in the Plains for the remainder of the week. Glaros predicts an additional six to 12 inches of snow in those areas. However, the storm doesn’t end there.

“After the snow, comes the cold. We’re talking about 20-40 degree below normal high temperatures today and record lows potentially across the growing regions of California,” she said. “Dangerous cold will continue filtering in across the eastern half of the United States, slowly this week.”

She also said that this storm could bring in a late week ice storm for Texas through Pennysylvania that could start mid-day on Thursday.

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