RENO, Nev. - Yet another snowstorm closed highways in parts of the West yesterday, the latest in a tiring week of bad weather, and a dangerous sheet of ice in parts of the Midwest contributed to a looming flood problem.
Winter storm warnings were in effect yesterday for parts of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the western Dakotas, and a blizzard warning covered the mountains of southwest Colorado.
"It's going to be a heck of a storm," said Chris Cuoco, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, Colo. "We're expecting significant snowfall in all the mountains of Colorado. Even the valleys are going to see 4-plus inches of snow."
Up to 20 inches of snow was forecast in parts of the Rockies, along with gusts of up to 80 m.p.h.
The Utah Avalanche Center renewed its warning against travel in mountain backcountry, saying that up to 3 feet of new snow in places, plus strong wind, had overloaded layers of weak snow and raised the avalanche threat.
A Utah avalanche killed two people earlier in the week, and a snowslide in California's Sierra Nevada killed one man Thursday.
In the Midwest, freezing rain glazed streets and highways in the Chicago area. The Eisenhower Expressway - Interstate 290 - was closed for a time because of the ice, and the village of Lemont blocked off all its major intersections.
The full length of the Indiana Toll Road, more than 150 miles, was shut down for about two hours yesterday morning because it was "an entire sheet of ice" with numerous accidents, State Trooper William Jones said. Indiana also closed a 10-mile section of Interstate 69 just north of Fort Wayne.
The ice was blamed yesterday for seven Indiana traffic deaths, adding to four weather-related deaths in the state earlier in the week. In Indianapolis, a fire engine slid head-on into a tree, sending four firefighters to a hospital with minor injuries.
Temperatures could reach the 50s and even 60s in the region today, after subzero readings earlier in the week, and a possibility of 2 inches of rain was forecast in Indiana.
The National Weather Service issued flood watches for much of Illinois, saying that "the potential exists for very serious and potentially life-threatening flooding."
Utah officials shut down Interstate 84 at the Utah-Idaho state line yesterday because of the weather, and some state roads were open only to vehicles with tire chains or four-wheel-drive. Colorado closed at least two mountain-pass highways.