DES MOINES, Iowa — A fierce winter storm hammered more than a dozen states Tuesday with dangerous ice, heavy snow and vicious winds that threatened to create 15-foot drifts in parts of the Upper Midwest.
As much as two-thirds of the country will be affected by the storm by the time it moves off the Maine coast Thursday night, said Jim Lee, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines.
"It's a monster of a storm," Lee said.
At least four deaths were blamed on the weather.
After drenching California with rain and blanketing the mountain West, the storm was expected to bring significant snowfall and blizzard conditions from Utah to the Great Lakes. Wind advisories and warnings were in effect from New Mexico to the Mid-Atlantic states, with flooding in the south. Winter storm warnings were likely to be issued in New England today, and a foot or more of snow was expected in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.
"It's beautiful — it feels like we moved into the next season," said Ann Marks, a mother of four in Whitefish Bay, Wis., who was buying gloves, hats and scarves. She paused, then added with a smile, "Of course, ask me in a month and it might be a new story."
Flights were snarled in the Midwest and West. Hundreds of flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago; all departures were canceled out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and only a few were scheduled at Des Moines International Airport. Several flights into and out of Reno-Tahoe International Airport were delayed or canceled.
Heavy rain pounded some parts of the South, and more than 4 inches were reported in spots in New Orleans. The storm also produced high winds and a possible tornado near Lake Pontchartrain, the National Weather Service said.