Traffic moved through the town centre after a major winter storm dropped around 8 inches of snow in Taos, New Mexico, US, on January 11, 2019. Image Credit: Reuters

Highlights

  • At least 20 people died as heavy snow pounded several European countries
  • 1,431 flight cancellations were reported in the US due to snowstorm
  • 12,465 flight delays reported as monster snowstorm blankets more than half of US
  • Snow cover to stretch from the US Midwest to the East Coast — impacting millions of people.

New York/Vienna: At least 20 people have died as heavy snow pounded Europe even as the big white cover snarled travel across central United States on Friday and Saturday.

Bad weather has closed down schools, left some remote villages cut off and disrupted traffic and power supplies in the Balkans.

At least 20 people have died after heavy snowfall continued to batter Europe, with two snowboarders killed in an avalanche in Bulgaria on Friday.

The Bulgarian Red Cross said the snowboarders' bodies were found at 12pm in the Pirin Mountains, and claimed that the two triggered the avalanche that killed them after ignoring warnings.

In Germany, the driver of a snow plow died after his vehicle toppled into an icy river.

Police in Lenggries, south of Munich, said the 48-year-old was rescued after several hours but died in hospital.

People clear snow from inside the Hotel Saentis in Schwaegalp, Switzerland Image Credit: AP

Austrian military helicopters had to rescue 66 German teenagers from a mountain guest house on Friday where they had been stuck for several days.

In Salzburg, all parks, public gardens, play areas and cemeteries were closed Friday because of the danger of trees falling under the weight of snow.

A woman makes her way on a bicycle at the early morning after heavy snow fall in Munich, Germany Image Credit: AP

Meanwhile, many motorists in America had been stranded for hours, and were forced to abandon cars on Missouri highways amid major snowstorm.

The massive winter storm hit the U.S. Rockies and Plains then punched east, with snow set to assault a 1,800-mile (1,609 km) corridor through the weekend, creating transportation “havoc” in the middle of the country.

A man shovels snow from the roof of his house in a remote village near Kladanj, 80 kms north of Sarajevo, Bosnia. Image Credit: AP
Cats are seen in front of a snow-covered house in Abtenau, Austria Image Credit: AP

The massive winter storm hit the U.S. Rockies and Plains then punched east, with snow set to assault a 1,800-mile (1,609 km) corridor through the weekend, creating transportation “havoc” in the middle of the country.

The system started as rain from Mexico and turned to snow as it met icy air. Up to 18 inches (45 cm) of snow were expected in the Sangre de Cristo mountains south of Denver, according to the National Weather Service.

As the storm heads east, up to 16 inches (41 cm) of snow were likely in western Missouri and St. Louis. Areas to the east could get about 6 inches (15 cm) with ice developing in Kansas, and Arkansas, and up to 4 inches (10 cm) of snow in Washington, D.C., before the system heads out to sea late on Sunday, AccuWeather said.

Havoc

“The storm is expected to create havoc over the central part of the country, then extend eastward into the Mid-Atlantic states,” said Randy Adkins, an AccuWeather meteorologist.

The FlightAware.com flight tracking website reported 1,431 flight cancellations on Friday and 12,465 delays, with problems at snow-hit airports like Denver causing knock-on effects around the country.

While the storm will spare the heavily populated Northeast, it likely will disrupt air and auto travel from Kansas City to Indianapolis, and will bring the heaviest snowfall so far this winter to Cincinnati and the Ohio River Valley, said AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Walker.

Although the Kansas City area is expected to get up to 6 inches of snow, it should be over by the time the Kansas City Chiefs begin their National Football League playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday afternoon.

St. Louis emergency management officials are bracing for auto travel disruptions and possible power outages, but based on current forecasts, are not expecting to be overwhelmed, spokeswoman Tracy Panus said.

“This is not the first storm we’ve had in the St. Louis area,” Panus, who is with the St. Louis County Police Department of Emergency Management, said by telephone.

As the system moves eastward, it will hand off to a second coastal storm on Sunday that will bring 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) of snow to the Washington, D.C., area before it moves off the coast that night, Walker said.

“There could be a period of ice that we’re concerned about across portions of central North Carolina and back into the mountains,” he added.