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Storm blankets US West with snow, ice in Midwest

world Updated: Dec 27, 2008 08:17 IST

Yet another snowstorm pummeled parts of the American West, snarling post-holiday traffic and darkening lights on Christmas trees, and freezing rain covered some Midwest highways with a dangerous sheet of ice.

Winter storm warnings were issued Friday for parts of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, and a blizzard warning was in effect for the mountains of southwest Colorado.

"It's going to be a heck of a storm," said Chris Cuoco, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Up to 50 centimeters of snow was forecast in parts of the Rockies, along with wind gusts of up to 130 kph.

In the Midwest, most streets and highways in the Chicago area were ice-glazed. The Eisenhower Expressway -- Interstate 290 -- was closed for a time because of the ice, but the temperature was rising above the freezing point by midmorning.

Roads and highways in parts of Utah, Colorado, Idaho and Indiana also shut down.

Heavy snow and whiteout conditions in the Sierra Nevada on Thursday led authorities to intermittently shut down a busy highway that is the main link between northern Nevada and Northern California.

The mountains around Lake Tahoe received more than half a meter of snow, bringing totals at some resorts in the past two weeks to 3 meters.

Elsewhere in the Sierra, an avalanche killed a 21-year-old man Thursday at the Squaw Valley USA ski resort in California. A Utah avalanche killed two people earlier in the week.

Snow and ice weren't the only problems. The weather service confirmed that it was two small tornadoes on Christmas Eve that caused scattered damage in Alabama.