By Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY
Returning Wednesday from Christmas celebrations could be a tough,
slippery or delayed ride for travelers in many parts of the country.
major winter storm carrying snow, sleet and freezing rain was forecast
to move across the Midwest overnight and continue into the upper
Midwest, Upstate New York and parts of New England on Wednesday,
according to AccuWeather.
Meanwhile, the forecasting service
says, tornadoes, thunderstorms and damaging winds that struck Tuesday
along the Gulf Coast will move into the Carolinas and into parts of
Georgia and Florida on Wednesday.
The bad weather threatens to
snarl traffic on highways in the Midwest and Northeast and lead to major
flight delays and cancellations on one of the heaviest travel days of
"Travel is going to get rough," says Marshall Moss, vice president of forecasting at AccuWeather.
blizzard warning late Tuesday stretched across northeastern Arkansas,
southeastern Missouri, southwestern Indiana, western Kentucky and
southern Illinois amid predictions of from 6 to 12 inches of snow by
Wednesday morning, says Marshall Moss, vice president of forecasting at
Some areas of Arkansas' Ozark Mountains could get up
to 12 inches of snow, making travel "very hazardous or impossible" in
the northern tier of the state from near-whiteout conditions, the
National Weather Service says.
Snow and ice pose dangers for many of the 84.4 million people that
auto club AAA estimated hit the road for Christmas holiday trips of at
least 50 miles.
It won't be much better for many air travelers seeking to get home.
will be a horrific day for travel in Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit,
Indianapolis and Pittsburgh," AccuWeather meteorologist Mark Paquette
"There will be major problems, major delays for airports."
airlines, including US Airways, Delta, American Airlines and Southwest
Airlines, told passengers late Tuesday they could re-book their flights
over the next couple of days without having to pay a penalty fee.
Airlines had estimated that 42 million passengers would be flying this Christmas and New Year's holiday.
The strange mix of winter weather - tornadoes, snow, freezing rain and high winds - began making havoc early on Christmas Day.
than 360 flights nationwide were canceled and more than 2,970 delayed
as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the flight tracker
FlightStats.com. Most were out of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.
roads were blamed for a 21-vehicle pileup in Oklahoma, where the
state's Department of Transportation warned travelers to stay home. In
New Mexico, drivers across the eastern Plains had to fight through snow,
ice and low visibility.
least three tornadoes were confirmed in Texas. The Harris County
Sheriff's Office near Houston said a 25-year-old man died after strong
storms knocked a tree onto his pickup truck.
don't want to mess around with tornadoes," Paquette says. "Anytime you
have a storm that is creating tornadoes and snow at the same time is a
Contributing: The Associated Press