From: Reuters
Published March 8, 2008 05:26 PM

Late-winter storms sock parts of U.S. and Canada

By Ros Krasny

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A late-season winter storm slammed into the Ohio Valley on Saturday, forcing flight delays and cancellations at airports before heading out toward the eastern Great Lakes and the Northeast.

Canada also was being hit with a winter blast that snarled air traffic and wreaked havoc on the roads.

Snow totals from Ohio to western New York could exceed 15 to 20 inches by Sunday, the National Weather Service said. Ahead of the snow, freezing rain, ice and sleet fell from eastern Kentucky into New York state.

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Ice and heavy, blowing snow closed Cleveland Hopkins International Airport around 11:45 a.m. EST, the Federal Aviation Administration said. It was not expected to reopen until Sunday morning.

The storm extends a brutal season for much of the central United States, where people have faced some of the heaviest snowfall and mix of wintry conditions in years.

Chicago was hit on Saturday by lake-effect snows whipped up over Lake Michigan, and was shivering in the coldest late-season temperatures in five years.

The city has had its snowiest winter since 1978-1979, overrunning its snow removal budget and leaving streets strewn with thousands of potholes.

CANADA DIGGING OUT

A storm that hit eastern and central Canada was expected to leave parts of the country buried under more than 16 inches of snow over the weekend.

Many flights to and from Toronto, Canada's most populous city, have been canceled or delayed, according to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. But the city's Pearson International Airport remained open.

Air traffic also was reported affected in Montreal and the capital, Ottawa.

Weather advisories were in effect across Atlantic Canada, from rain and wind warnings in Nova Scotia to snow and freezing-rain warnings in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The storm has resulted in so many car crashes that police in Ontario were no longer attending crash sites. Instead, they were asking those involved in a collision to get a tow and report to a designated center, local media said.

Severe weather ranging from tornadoes to damaging wind gusts were reported across northern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina on Friday and into Saturday.

Rain lashed the eastern Mid-Atlantic region and moved into southern New England.

Two people were killed by tornadoes that ripped through Columbia County, Florida, on Friday, authorities said. A total of four traffic deaths in Ohio, Tennessee and New York state were also blamed on the weather.

Snowfall by midday on Saturday reached 1 foot or more from Houston County in northern Tennessee, through Louisville, Kentucky, to Columbus, Ohio, and Buffalo, New York.

Parts of Interstate 70, which crosses the country's midsection, from Maryland to Utah, was closed in western Ohio on Saturday morning.

Conditions hampered cleanup efforts in northeast Ohio from an ice storm earlier in the week, leaving several thousand customers without power. Other power disruptions were scattered.

(Additional reporting by Renato Andrade; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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