Wintry weather temporarily loosened its grip across much of the U.S. just in time for Thanksgiving, after tangling holiday travelers in wind, ice and snow and before more major storms descend Friday.
There were some exceptions to the respite, particularly involving California’s main north-south Highway 5, which was shut down in Southern California early Thursday as heavy snow softly blanketed the region.
But high winds that had ripped a wooden sign from scaffolding on Chicago’s Willis Tower and nearly felled the Christmas Tree to close Cleveland’s Public Square Wednesday were calm enough by Thursday morning to allow the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York to proceed, albeit with balloons flying at lower levels.
The National Weather Service predicted things could get dicey — if not impassable — for holiday travelers’ trips home. Forecasters warned against travel Friday night through Saturday night in a stretch of country from northeast Wyoming to northwest South Dakota due to expected blizzard conditions.
The next storm system was expected to drop up to 2 feet of additional snow from the Sierra Nevada to the central and northern Rockies as it rolls across a large swath of the western and central United States.
In California, authorities grappling with the second closure of I-5 in three days suggested alternate routes Thursday as they worked to clear the road. A previous closure on Tuesday near the border with Oregon stranded hundreds of people, and Thursday’s seemed likely to separate some families for the holiday.
Long stretches of two interstate highways in northern Arizona’s high country also were expected to be closed between late Thursday and early Friday because of expected heavy snowfall.
High winds also caused power outages in parts of the country, which crews scrambled to address Thursday.
In Ohio, crews had restored power to about 90 percent of those affected by Wednesday power outages caused by high winds. At peak, 42,000 customers in central Ohio and 39,000 in northeast Ohio were without electricity.
In Maine, heavy, wet snow and gusty winds caused more than 20,000 power outages. Central Maine Power Co. said in addition to its crews, at least 70 contractor crews, including 50 from Canada, were actively working or were headed to Maine Thursday to provide restoration support.
About 40 flights at Salt Lake City International Airport were experiencing delays Thursday averaging around 25 minutes. Spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said some of those may have related to weather in other cities.
She said most snow had been cleared by Thursday afternoon at the nation’s fourth-largest Delta hub, but crews were bracing for more snowfall by evening.
In Chicago, which experienced delays headed into Thanksgiving Day, the Chicago Department of Aviation said things were pretty much back to normal.
Associated Press writers Martha Mendoza in Frazier Park, California, Don Babwin in Chicago and Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.