Winter arrives in seasonal style

DES MOINES, Iowa - Successive waves of wintry weather gripped much of the country yesterday, frustrating holiday travelers from coast to coast and keeping the lights off for thousands of people who lost power after ice storms just days ago.

In the Northeast, the aftermath of snow that fell Friday continued to snarl air traffic. And residents who still lacked power after an ice storm last week grew frustrated as officials warned that the storm battering the Midwest would blow in today, the official first day of winter.

Iowa officials urged motorists not to travel as heavy snow began to fall. The state expected winds up to 35 m.p.h. and wind chills of minus 25 just two days after being slammed with sleet, ice and snow.

Washington state braced for hurricane-force winds and the temperature dipped to minus 18 yesterday in Spokane, which expected up to 6 inches of snow on top of the 25 that fell over the last three days, the National Weather Service said.


- AP

38 hurt as plane leaves runway

DENVER - A Continental Airlines jet taking off from Denver veered off the runway into a ravine and caught fire last night, forcing passengers to evacuate on emergency slides and injuring nearly 40 people, officials said.

No deaths were reported, but 38 people were taken to hospitals, said Kim Day, Denver International Airport manager of aviation. No one was reported in critical condition.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known. The weather in Denver was cold but not snowy when Continental Flight 1404 took off from Denver International Airport for Houston around 6:20 p.m.

Ground crews put out the flames quickly, said airport spokesman Jeff Green. The 112 people on board made it out on through slides on the Boeing 737.

The plane was carrying 107 passengers and five crew members, said Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark.

Denver Health spokeswoman Kalena Wilkinson said seven people were taken to her hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. Five people were reported in fair condition at the University of Colorado hospital.

- AP

Feds investigate bridge collapse

ATLANTA - Federal investigators were working through the weekend to determine what caused a pedestrian bridge being built above an Atlanta park to collapse, killing one man and leaving 11 other workers hospitalized, seven in intensive care.

Contractors were pouring concrete on the "canopy walk" at the Atlanta Botanical Garden when it crumbled Friday morning, sending workers hurtling up to 40 feet to the forest below.

The 30-acre garden is adjacent to Atlanta's popular Piedmont Park.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A mother and two children

were found shot to death, possibly by the mother, who may have also staged attacks on the family over the last two weeks, police said. Police found the bodies of Jeanmarie Geis, 49, her 8-year-old son and her 4-year-old daughter in their Dallas home Friday morning.