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Snow to hit 2,000-mile stretch from Nevada to New England as weekend travelers head home

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 6 days ago Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
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A severe storm system is turning Black Friday into a wintry white weekend with blizzards and snow expected along much of a 2,000-mile stretch from Nevada to the Upper Midwest and into New England next week.

Farther south, severe thunderstorms are possible from the southern Plains to Lower Mississippi River Valley through Saturday. 

The National Weather Service forecast a large swath of snow totals topping 8 inches for the Northern Rockies eastward into the Northern Plains and for Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, according to the National Weather Service. It said localized snow totals above 18 inches can be expected.

a train covered in snow: Motorists navigate an ice and snow-covered road on November 27, 2019 in Mason City, Iowa. © Scott Olson, Getty Images Motorists navigate an ice and snow-covered road on November 27, 2019 in Mason City, Iowa.

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The weather threatened to be particularly disruptive on Sunday, when millions of holiday travelers start home. Airlines for America, the airline industry’s trade group, expects 3.1 million passengers during what could be the busiest day ever recorded for American air travel.

The group estimated a record of 31.6 million people will travel over a 12-day holiday period. Airlines on Friday said they were so far operating as usual as they monitor the weather. American Airlines issued weather-related waivers Friday for just one airport: Rapid City, South Dakota.

a close up of a map: SOURCE AccuWeather, as of Nov. 29; maps4news.com/©HERE © USA TODAY SOURCE AccuWeather, as of Nov. 29; maps4news.com/©HERE

Parts of South Dakota were under a blizzard warning and could see howling winds and as much as 2 feet of snow. The South Dakota Highway Patrol posted a photo on Facebook of a semi-truck that veered from Interstate 90 near Rapid City. “Do not travel if you don’t have to!” the agency wrote.

Minneapolis, which was hit by almost 10 inches of snow just before Thanksgiving, was bracing for another onslaught Friday, with 4 to 9 inches expected through Sunday

"Our break from winter weather will be brief with another large storm system impacting the region Friday through the weekend," says the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Harsh travel conditions are in store for long stretches of Interstates 90 and 94, with the Dakotas, eastern Wyoming and eastern Montana facing especially bleak conditions.

"Blizzard conditions can occur in part of this swath. The visibility could be so low at times it may be difficult to determine where the road surface actually is," says AccuWeather, which forecasts 36 inches of snow for the Black Hills of South Dakota.

AccuWeather said travel should be avoided in these areas until the storm leaves and crews have had a chance to clear roads of deep snow by Sunday or Monday.

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As the storm moves east, it is likely to produce snow, sleet and freezing rain by Saturday night in portions of the Northeast, including northern Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The first Nor'easter of the season is expected to hit New York on Sunday morning, and may stretch into Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Albany. The storm is forecast as a mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet in Dutchess County.

A nor'easter is defined as a storm that has moderate to heavy precipitation that starts off the East Coast and tracks into eastern New England, said weather service meteorologist Joe Villani.

The storm is the result of the massive blizzard hitting the Midwest, he said. 

To the South, the same low pressure system triggering harsh conditions along the northern tier is likely to produce several inches of snow in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Flagstaff, Arizona, was hit by heavy snow early Friday, with the local NWS office reporting almost 4 inches falling during one hour as the storm moved in.

Thunderstorms ahead of the cold front are expected along a southern path from Arizona to East Texas and into Tennessee.

The Intermountain West — which stretches from Nevada to western New Mexico — is expected to dry out by Saturday, but another low pressure system approaching from the Pacific will spread more snow and rain over the West Coast late Saturday into Sunday.

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Contributing: Saba Ali of the Poughkeepsie Journal; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Snow to hit 2,000-mile stretch from Nevada to New England as weekend travelers head home

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