A powerful winter-like storm that is being blamed for at least eight deaths is marching eastward and could wreak havoc as millions of Americans are preparing to travel for Thanksgiving.
The front, which began Thursday in California, is now pummeling most of North Texas with a mix of rain, light freezing rain and light sleet. The west got walloped with up to three feet of snow from California to Texas. Meteorologists said they expected the Arctic mass to head south and east and threaten plans for Tuesday and Wednesday as people hit the roads and airports for some of the busiest travel days of the year.
More than 43 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles this holiday week, according to AAA and some of them got off to a rocky start as more than 300 flights were canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Sunday.
Deadly Winter Storm Across Southwest
"DFW is the fourth-busiest airport in the country and as such it's a major part of the interconnected aviation system of the United States and really of the world," airport spokesman David Magana told ABC News Radio.
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect from Dallas to Shreveport, La., until noon today with icy conditions. The system is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico later today where it will pick up moisture and drop 1 to 3 inches of rain from Houston to Atlanta.
By Tuesday, the front will move along the East Coast and could bring 2 to 5 inches of rain from the Carolinas to Maine with a threat of flash flooding in some areas. Further inland, cities including Knoxville, Cleveland, Buffalo and Syracuse will see mostly snow with some areas getting close to a foot of snow.
In addition to the rain and snow, wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph from Tuesday evening through Wednesday night are expected.
Thanksgiving Travel Season Could See Nasty Winter Storm
The system will clear the East Coast by Thanksgiving Day, leaving just chilly temperatures in New York City for the annual parade.
The storm has already claimed the lives of at least eight people with the latest death reported in New Mexico Sunday where more than a foot of snow fell, The Associated Press reported. A 4-year-old girl in New Mexico was killed in a rollover accident.
Three storm-related deaths were reported Saturday in a crash in the Texas Panhandle involving nearly a dozen vehicles, The Associated Press reported.
In California, where the storm system hit first, three deaths have been linked to the storms since Thursday, as 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.
Flagstaff, Ariz., was socked with 11 inches of snow by early Sunday and was expecting at least another inch overnight. Metro Phoenix and other parts of central Arizona received between 1½ to 2½ inches of rain over the course of the storm.
The storm is also affecting animals and casing migrating ducks to fall from the sky in Noble, Okla. Rondi Large, director at Wildcare Foundation in Noble, is caring for a group of confused ducks who thought they were landing in water when they crashed into glistening, ice covered asphalt roads.
"The edges of their beaks had got very bad bruising and bleeding on the end of the beaks so they must have nose-dived," Large said".
By Anthony Castellano