A massive winter storm hit the US Rockies and plains on Friday then paused east, with snow set to attack a 1,800 mile (1,609 km) corridor through the weekend, creating transportation "chaos" in the middle of the country.
The system started as rain from Mexico and became snow when it met ice-cold air. Up to 18 cm (45 cm) of snow was expected in the Sangre de Cristo mountains south of Denver, according to the National Weather Service.
When the storm heads east, up to 1
"The storm is expected to create chaos over the central part of the country and then stretch eastward into the Middle Atlantic," said Randy Adkins, an AccuWeather meteorologist.
FlightAware.com's flight tracking website reported 1,431 flight cancellations on Friday and 12,465 delays with snow problems hit airports like Denver causing knock-on effects around the country.
While the storm will save the heavily populated northeast, it will likely disturb air and auto travel from Kansas City to Indianapolis, and will bring the heaviest snowfall so far this winter to Cincinnati and the Ohio River Valley, said AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Walker.
Although the Kansas City area is expected to reach 6 in snow, it should be over when the Kansas City Chiefs begin their National Football League playoff fight against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday afternoon. St Louis emergency management officials are tightening for automatic travel disruptions and possible power cuts, but based on current forecasts, do not expect to be overwhelmed, spokeswoman Tracy Panus said.
"This is not the first storm we have had in the St. Louis area," Panus, said by phone. "
When the system moves to the east, it will deliver to another coastal storm on Sunday that will bring 2-4in (5-10cm) of snow to Washington DC, area before it moves from the shore in the evening, Walker said.
"There could be an ice age where we are concerned across parts of the central north Carolina and back in the mountains, "he added.