Dec 23 (Reuters) – A winter storm system sweeping the Pacific Northwest on Friday is expected to unleash heavy snow, freezing rain and high winds as it moves across much of the United States over the weekend, making holiday travel treacherous, forecasters said.
The storm brought light snow and rain to Seattle in the Pacific Northwest as temperatures hovered around freezing. The National Weather Service said as much as 3 inches (7.62 cm) of snow could fall on elevated lowland areas by Saturday morning.
In northeastern Oregon, transportation authorities closed Interstate 84 between Baker City and LaGrande earlier on Friday after snow reduced visibility to zero.
10. The Blizzard of 1888
This storm was so massive it became a historical event and caused over 400 deaths. This view made during the blizzard of shows New Yorkers hiking across the bridge after being forced to leave their train when it stalled as a result of the heavy snow on March 12-14. Winds reached up to 60 miles per hour, creating drifts as high as fifty feet.
(AP Photo/Arthur H. Fisher)
9. 1993’s Storm of the Century
The Storm of the Century in 1993 spread more snow across an area than any other in recorded history all the way from Canada to Alabama. 270 people were killed.
In this photo, Janelle Jarous climbs a mound of packed snow in Larchmont, N.Y. on March 14, 1993 to get at a hard to reach spot on the roof of her car as she digs her car out after a storm that covered the Northeast with snow and ice. Over a foot of snow and heavy winds made the for one of the worst winter storms of the century.
(AP Photo/Ron Frehm)
8. New York Blizzard of 2006
The New York Blizzard of 2006 dumped 26.9 inches of snow on the city.
In this photo, Brooklyn resident Nick Imelio shovels snow after more than a foot of snow fell during the winter’s first major snowstorm to strike the Northeast, on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2006, in New York.
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
7. 2008 Blizzard in Tibet
Journeying outside of the Unites States, Tibet got a surprise storm that lasted 36 hours and dropped upwards of five feet of snow causing buildings to collapse and at least seven deaths.
(Photo credit: Getty)
6. 1959 storm on Mount Shasta
Number six is the storm on Mount Shasta in California in 1959 which unloaded 189 inches of snow on the locals and is considered the largest snowfall from a single storm in North America according to NOAA.
(Photo by Frederic Lewis/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
5. Blizzard of 1971
Next is the Eastern Canadian Blizzard of 1971. It is said the event closed down the Montreal Forum, canceling a Montreal Canadiens hockey game, something that hasn’t occurred since the flu epidemic of 1918.
(Photo by Dave Norris/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
4. New England Blizzard of 1978
At number four is the New England Blizzard of 1978. Stalling over New England, this storm struck during the day, dropping over 27 inches of snow and stranding many at schools, businesses and others in their cars.
(Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
3. The Great Snow of 1717
Then there was the Great Snow of 1717 over the New England Area. With five feet of snow already on the ground, around four more fell on top of that creating drifts as tall as 25 feet, burying entire houses.
(Photo via Getty Images)
2. Buffalo Blizzard of 1977
The second worst snowstorm is the Buffalo Blizzard of 1977. This event left many stranded in the freezing cold and solidified Buffalo’s reputation as the blizzard capital of the United States.
1. Blizzard of 1967
But the storm to top them all is the Blizzard of 1967. Laying waste to the Midwest, this storm took 76 lives, set the record snowfall for Chicago with 23 inches and was preceded by a severe tornado outbreak with temperatures in the 60’s.
(Photo by Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)
“An expansive storm system moving into the western U.S. (Friday) afternoon will make for an eventful holiday weekend across much of the Nation,” the National Weather Service said in a forecast.
The storm system will first dump rain across much of the West Coast, including Southern California, where showers and thunderstorms could trigger flooding for some areas, the NWS said.
The storm will move east on Saturday, spreading snow across the Rockies and into the northern plains through Sunday, Christmas Day, the service said.
The deteriorating weather may derail travel plans for some of the 94 million Americans who the American Automobile Association says will hit the roads during the holidays.
Signs of how bad weather may cause disruptions for holiday travelers continued for a second day on Friday as 519 U.S. flights were canceled, according to flightaware.com.
A blizzard watch was in effect for the area around Bismarck, North Dakota, where as much as a foot (30 cm) of snow and heavy winds will lead to dangerous Christmas travel conditions, the NWS said.
“Blizzard conditions are possible across portions of the northern plains on Christmas Day, where snow along with winds gusting in excess of 60 mph (97 kph) could create very dangerous travel conditions,” the NWS said.
A separate fast-moving system will bring light snow and rain on Friday to Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio, the NWS said.
As their neighbors to the north deal with winter weather, people in southern Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee will enjoy unseasonably warm weather on Christmas Day, as temperatures are likely to soar into the 60s F, according to the NWS.
Even so, during the evening, those areas could see rain and a few thunderstorms, the NWS said. (Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bill Trott and Diane Craft)