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Relentless winter: Snowstorm pounds central U.S.; brutal cold will follow

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/23/2019 Doyle Rice
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Mid-to-late January is typically the heart of winter for much of the nation, and it's certainly no exception this year.

Yet another winter storm began to batter the central U.S. on Tuesday, closing schools and wreaking travel havoc on the roads and at the airports.

The storm will ramp up in intensity Wednesday across the upper Midwest and around the Great Lakes, according to the National Weather Service. Brutal cold will follow the storm later in the week.

On Tuesday, a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 80 was closed in Wyoming, dozens of accidents were reported in the Denver area, and hundreds of flights cancelled at several airports, the Weather Channel said. 

Fatal accidents involving vehicles sliding off icy roadways were reported in Wisconsin and Illinois on Tuesday.

Winter storm watches and warnings remained in effect late Tuesday from eastern Colorado to northern Michigan, the National Weather Service said. Up to a foot of snow is possible over portions of the Great Lakes.

“The bulk of the snow will fall along parts of interstates 80, 90 and 94 corridors from Nebraska to Wisconsin,” AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. The snow will lead to slippery roadways and disruptions to daily routines.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport closed Tuesday night because of the snow and was expected to reopen early Wednesday. Flights arriving to Chicago O'Hare International Airport were delayed by an average of six hours Tuesday night. 

Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Madison and Green Bay, Wisconsin are among the communities where the heaviest snowfall could set up into early Wednesday, AccuWeather said.

Slideshow by photo services

The Weather Channel has named it Winter Storm Indra. 

South of the snowy weather, heavy rain will pelt much of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic on Wednesday and into Thursday. Due to the rain, urban flooding is possible in the major I-95 cities from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

Then, once the storm moves offshore, the next Arctic blast will roar into the northern Plains and upper Midwest on Thursday and into the eastern U.S. by Thursday night. "High temperatures on Thursday will struggle to reach above zero from North Dakota to Wisconsin, with widespread wind chill values between minus 10 and minus 20," the weather service said.

Friday may be Chicago’s coldest day of the winter thus far, with a forecast high in the single digits, AccuWeather said.

Even though the storm will have passed, snow will still be a problem: The weather service warned that "existing snow cover and strong winds with the Arctic cold front may combine to produce ground blizzard conditions in parts of the northern Plains from later Wednesday into Thursday morning."

A ground blizzard occurs when snow that's already fallen is blown around by the wind, leading to whiteout conditions.

The intense cold will move into the East and South by Friday and into the weekend.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Relentless winter: Snowstorm pounds central U.S.; brutal cold will follow

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