Winter storm makes treacherous travel conditions on Thanksgiving

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Heavy rains will also pose a flash-flooding threat in Southern California through Thanksgiving, and in the Southwest by early Friday, the weather service said.

On the West Coast, a "bomb cyclone" - a winter storm that forms when the barometric pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours - slammed OR and Northern California, knocking down trees, bringing coastal flooding and stranding drivers on Interstate 5 with mountain snows of up to 4 feet (120 cm).

Stewart also said that wind associated with rainstorms pose a risk for downed trees or power lines. Others were reduced to a single lane, transportation officials said.

They are rare in the U.S. West and this storm's pressure dropped even more precipitously than expected, leading forecasters to say it was one of the worst such storms in the past 15 to 20 years.

Things will start kickin' by about Friday evening, with winds starting to pick up and a full transition to snow expected.

Virtually the entire Sierra Nevada Mountain range is blanketed beneath winter storm warnings with strong jet stream dynamics and plentiful moisture expected to churn out snow measured in feet.

Stranded travelers took shelter at hotels. Southbound drivers are being stopped near Grapevine Road.

The storm will continue to affect much of the region; hazardous conditions have been reported throughout Montana. For a storm to be classified as a blizzard, it doesn't matter how much snow you get. Some areas could see a foot (30.5 centimeters) or more, Hewett said.

However, just in time for the return to the workweek, a storm system will arrive Sunday night, introducing a stretch of unsettled weather for the following days.

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On Tuesday, weather-related damage was widespread.

By early Thursday, more than 200 flights had been canceled in the United States and almost 2,000 delayed, according to FlightAware.

As many as 278 flights were canceled as of early Thursday, while a jaw-dropping 4,576 flights were delayed, said Flight Aware.

More than 1,100 passengers were forced to spend Monday night at the airport after a major snowstorm hit the Denver metro area, said airport spokeswoman Alex Renteria.

A wide area of southern California could see 5cm to 7.5cm of rain, and snow could fall heavily at the tops of the mountains around San Bernardino until tomorrow. One person was killed, and two others were injured when a tractor-trailer jackknifed and was hit by two other trucks on Interstate 70 near the Colorado ski town of Vail.

"Widespread winter weather, flash flood and wind watches, warnings and advisories are now in effect ... across large portions of the nation", it said.

"That could be a coast-to-coast storm", he said.

There are also fears the giant, colourful character balloons floating through Manhattan during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade might be grounded for today's festivities because of gusting winds in the Big Apple.

During the parade, sustained winds up to 25 miles per hour and wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour are possible.

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