Storm Drops Spring Snow On Central Plains; East Coast Expecting Sloppy Weekend

Friday, April 13th 2007, 7:19 pm
By: News On 6

A spring storm dropping snow and rain on the central Plains on Friday before speeding toward the East Coast, where it was expected to create a messy weekend.

Up to eight inches of snow fell over parts of western Kansas by early afternoon, making driving tougher and forcing some schools to close early. Southeastern Colorado was expecting to end up with no more than seven inches _ far less than the 18 inches initially forecast in some places.

As the storm moved east, tornadoes were possible in east Texas, northern Louisiana and southwest Arkansas on Friday and Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

The storm could then bring rain and 25 mph wind to the Carolinas by late Saturday before hitting the Northeast with heavy snow or rain by Sunday, the weather service said. Forecasters also warned of possible flooding.

In Kansas, authorities discouraged motorists from heading out, said trooper Ron Knoefel in Garden City.

``The visibility is just terrible, and we continue to get snow as we speak,'' he said.

Truck stop worker Sylvia Smith-Metcalf said conditions were so bad that she would not be able to make a 30-mile drive home to Jetmore when her shift ended.

``They got me a motel room right next door,'' she said. ``I'm supposed to get off work at 10, provided the person on the next shift can get in.''

The storm's combination of snow, rain and high wind was unusual for this time of year, said Brian Korty, a National Weather Service forecaster in Camp Springs, Md.

It follows an earlier system that grounded hundreds of flights in the Midwest on Wednesday before delivering up to a foot fresh snow to northern New England on Friday.

At least seven traffic deaths were blamed on that storm.

At least one Eastern ski resort that had closed for the season changed course and reopened for the weekend _ stretching out a season that began late because of a lack of powder.

``Better late than never,'' said Chris Lenois, spokesman for Mount Snow in West Dover, Vt., which got just under a foot of new snow. ``... There's no bare spots on the mountain.''

In the West, the new storm packed less punch than had been forecast. Glum predictions had led Colorado legislators to take Friday off, and United Airlines had canceled 120 flights in Denver, but operations had returned to normal by Friday morning.