AP NEWS

The Latest: Highway lanes from California to Oregon reopen

November 28, 2019 GMT
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Bicycles used in the city of Denver's Bicycle sharing program are covered in snow as a storm packing snow and high winds sweeps in over the region Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Denver. Stores, schools and government offices were closed or curtailed their hours while on another front, Thanksgiving Day travellers were forced to wrestle with snow-packed roads and flight delays or cancellations throughout the intermountain West. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Bicycles used in the city of Denver's Bicycle sharing program are covered in snow as a storm packing snow and high winds sweeps in over the region Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Denver. Stores, schools and government offices were closed or curtailed their hours while on another front, Thanksgiving Day travellers were forced to wrestle with snow-packed roads and flight delays or cancellations throughout the intermountain West. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on the pre-Thanksgiving wintry storm (all times local):

7:25 p.m.

The northbound lanes of Interstate 5 have reopened heading from Redding, California, all the way to the Oregon border.

California transportation officials said Wednesday the freeway was clear and no chains are required.

I-5 was closed in both directions near the California-Oregon border Tuesday, stranding hundreds of people.

The southbound lanes reopened at Ashland, Oregon early Wednesday.

Don Anderson, deputy director of the California Department of Transportation in Redding, says Caltrans and many other agencies worked hard to communicate the seriousness of the storm but that many drivers were still caught by surprise.

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2:40 p.m.

A California transportation official says a major highway connecting California to Oregon that was closed after cars and trucks spun out during a major storm will fully open later Wednesday.

Interstate 5 was closed in both directions near the California-Oregon border Tuesday, stranding hundreds of people. The southbound lanes reopened at Ashland, Oregon, early Wednesday.

Don Anderson, deputy director of the California Department of Transportation in Redding, says northbound lanes will reopen late Wednesday afternoon.

Anderson says Caltrans and many other agencies worked hard to communicate the seriousness of the storm but that many drivers were still caught by surprise.

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2:25 p.m.

State officials say long stretches of two interstate highways in northern Arizona’s high country will likely be closed between late Thursday and early Friday because of expected heavy snowfall.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says Interstate 17 for 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Flagstaff and Interstate 40 for 185 miles (298 kilometers) between Winslow on the east and U.S. 93 on the west likely will be closed until the snowfall lets up and the routes can be plowed.

The National Weather Service forecasts that Flagstaff along both interstates will receive up to 2 feet (0.6 meter) of snow from the storm and has predicted “difficult to impossible travel conditions” Thanksgiving evening into Friday.

The department says additional highway closures may be necessary.

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2:10 p.m.

A wooden sign flew off scaffolding at Willis Tower as high winds gusted in Chicago, slamming into two vehicles and injuring a cab driver whose windshield was smashed.

Chicago police say the driver was taken to a hospital with an arm injury but in good condition following the accident about 7:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Willis Tower issued a statement saying it is “continuing to work with safety officials and ensure that the construction site is secure during periods of high wind.”

The National Weather Service says a 61mph wind gust was measured at O’Hare International Airport.

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12:20 p.m.

Some drivers slowed or stranded by blizzard conditions spent 17 hours or more in their cars on Interstate 5 near the Oregon-California border.

Christina Williams of Portland, Oregon, and her 13-year-old son got stuck in the storm as they tried to drive to the San Francisco area for Thanksgiving.

Williams says she connected via Twitter with others stranded around her using weather-related hashtags, sharing information on conditions in other parts of the backup. She says “there were spin-outs everywhere” and abandoned trucks. Williams says she began to wonder if they would have to spend the night in their car.

She said it took them more than 17 hours to reach Redding, California, where they got a hotel room. That journey would usually take at least 10 hours less.

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12 p.m.

High winds across Indiana have blown over trees and left tens of thousands of power customers without service.

Indiana electric utilities reported more than 44,000 customers without service late Wednesday morning. They include 15,000 served by Duke Energy and more than 13,000 served by Indianapolis Power & Light.

The National Weather Service recorded a 66mph wind gust in Valparaiso, a 64 mph gust in Adams County in northeastern Indiana and a 60 mph gust at Indianapolis International Airport. It also received reports of trees being blown down across the state.

The weather service said in a statement that the winds were creating difficult travel conditions for high-profile vehicles, such as semis.

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11:20 a.m.

Interstate 5 southbound from Ashland, Oregon to California has reopened after blizzard conditions closed it temporarily, but northbound I-5 from Redding, California into Oregon remains closed.

The Siskiyou Summit at the border on I-5, typically one of the more perilous sections of freeway along the West Coast corridor in wintery weather, had seen 6 inches of new snow with 10 inches packed on the roadside.

Oregon and California transportation officials are coordinating to decide when roads are safe for vehicles again.

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11:10 a.m.

Blizzard conditions have closed Interstate 5 south of Ashland, Oregon, all the way to the California state line.

The Siskiyou Summit at the border on I-5, typically one of the more perilous sections of freeway along the West Coast corridor in wintery weather, had seen 6 inches of new snow with 10 inches packed on the roadside.

The Oregon Department of Transportation says it will consult with counterparts in California to determine when the roadway is safe for vehicles again.

Meanwhile, crews are working to restore power to thousands of customers in southern Oregon and northern California because of high winds at the coast and heavy snow in the mountains. Pacific Power officials said Tuesday evening that more than 15,000 customers were without power.

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9 a.m.

Strong winds are whipping up snow and hampering travelers in Nebraska and Iowa.

The storm system that wreaked havoc as it raced through Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska remains over much of Iowa. The National Weather Service says gusts could approach 60 mph (96.6 kph) as the storm heads northeast. A gust of 53 mph (85.3 kph) was reported Wednesday morning in Davenport.

The Iowa Transportation Department says several highways are packed with snow, but none are closed.

The National Weather Service says little new snowfall is expected over Iowa, where 8.3 inches (21.1 centimeters) was reported a mile west of Spirit Lake.

Far western Nebraska is shoveling out from higher amounts. Nearly a foot (30.5 centimeters) has been reported southeast of Lyman, with drifts up to 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) deep.

Several Nebraska highways and county roads are covered with snow as well, but no weather-related closures are reported.

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7:30 a.m.

Blowing snow is making travel difficult in southern South Dakota where about two dozen school districts have canceled classes.

A South Dakota Department of Transportation map shows many roads from as far north as Watertown, south to Sioux City, west to Winner and east to Worthington are snow- or ice-covered.

The National Weather Service says Dell Rapids received around 6 inches of snow while many areas around Sioux Falls had around 4 inches. Areas around Mitchell had 2 to 4 inches of snow.

A winter storm warning was set to expire Wednesday morning.

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7:05 a.m.

Numerous roads in northwest and north-central Kansas are partially or completely snow covered after a storm dumped more than 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) of snow across the region.

A stretch of Interstate 70 near the state’s western border with Colorado was open again Wednesday after temporarily closing Tuesday at the height of the storm. Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Tod Hileman urged drivers in a tweet to “Stay put,” adding that it “doesn’t look like fun!” Many travelers took the advice, filling hotels in the area.

The National Weather Service says some of the heaviest accumulations were in Goodland, where 7.5 inches (19.05 centimeters) fell, and north of the small village of McDonald, where 9.5 inches (24.13 centimeters) was on the ground.

The storm also wreaked havoc in other states, including Wyoming and Nebraska.

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6:55 a.m.

Numerous schools canceled classes in northern and western Wisconsin as heavy snow and high wind caused deteriorating travel conditions.

The National Weather Service posted a winter storm warning from just north of La Crosse to northeast Wisconsin. In far northern areas of the state, including Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties, snowfall totals could reach as high as 20 inches (508 millimeters). Elsewhere, 6 inches (152 millimeters) to 10 inches (254 millimeters) of snow was expected in northwestern Wisconsin.

A Wisconsin Department of Transportation map shows roads and highways snow covered and slippery throughout the northern half of the state.

School districts from Mosinee to Viroqua were among those taking the day off Wednesday.

The storm brought rain and thunder to southern Wisconsin where the temperature was 50 degrees in Milwaukee Wednesday morning.

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6:05 a.m.

Blinding snow is falling fast in southern Minnesota, where 12 inches (304 millimeters) or more is expected to accumulate during a busy holiday travel period.

Officials warned residents to stay off the roads until the accompanying high winds die down. By early Wednesday, 8.7 inches (221 millimeters) of snow was already on the ground in Prior Lake, 7.8 inches (198 millimeters) at St. Paul and 7.5 inches (190.5 millimeters) in Eagan.

At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, crews worked overnight to clear runways ahead of the busiest travel day before Thanksgiving. About 20 flights were delayed or canceled Wednesday morning.

Many school districts and universities, including St. Paul Public Schools, the University of Minnesota and University of St. Thomas canceled Wednesday classes as travel conditions deteriorated.

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11:35 p.m.

A storm packing heavy snow and high winds that wreaked havoc as it whipped through Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska is marching into the upper Midwest as anxious Thanksgiving travelers brace for a busy, if not perilous, holiday week.

The wintry storm that left at least one person dead was expected to push eastward into South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin on Wednesday, while a “bomb cyclone” weather phenomenon was expected to simultaneously topple trees, knock out power and dump snow as it rolled into California and Oregon.

The one-two punch made for a double whammy of early wintry weather that threatened to scramble plans for millions of people nationwide during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.