'Bomb cyclone,’ powerful coast-to-coast storm system threatens Thanksgiving travel

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More than 1,100 passengers were forced to spend Monday night at the airport after a major snowstorm hit the Denver metro area, said airport spokeswoman Alex Renteria. Airport staff handed out blankets, baby formula and diapers, and restaurants stayed open longer than usual, she said.

Southwest Airlines canceled about 200 flights.

The northern Rockies are getting a pounding, with a snow storm producing blizzard conditions, while the Plains and Upper Midwest are next on the list. The Colorado Climate Center logged a storm total of 16.5 inches of snow in Fort Collins by Tuesday night, making it the third largest November storm total on record.

The National Weather Service is forecasting more than 50 inches through Friday in Lodgepole, California, ordinarily just a two hour drive up the mountains from Fresno.

"I am not like a lot of people and can not work from home, so I have no choice but to go", she said. Heavy snows, strong winds and coastal flooding are expected to cause severe disruptions for the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

Two massive storms are pounding the U.S. from OR to NY with a combination of snow, rain and high winds as millions of people take to the roads and skies ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The mountains, however, should see consistent, heavy snow fall on Thanksgiving day.

We are still watching for some ice across the state Friday.

The second storm brought snow to the mountains and wind and rain along the coasts of California and OR on Tuesday.

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Conditions in Johnson County are expected to be more severe with wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour.

But the biggest problem for the Northeast will be gusty winds on Thanksgiving Day - which could keep balloons from flying in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Christina Williams, a resident of Portland, Oregon had been travelling with her 13-year-old son to the San Francisco area for Thanksgiving but said it took 17 hours to reach Redding, California, where they got a hotel room.

The nasty weather and blizzard conditions have also forced the closure of major travel routes, including Interstate 5, the main thoroughfare from OR into California.

Out west, a unsafe storm hit southern OR and northern California that meteorologists are calling a "bomb cyclone" - a rapidly intensifying winter storm caused by a precipitous drop in atmospheric pressure.

Heavy snow shut down Interstate 5 through the Grapevine in the Tejon Pass this morning.

"It's blowing pretty good outside but because we're right on the coast, everything was built to ensure the safety of people", Smith said.

Forecasters said it was one of the worst cyclone storms they had seen in the past 15 to 20 years, while storms such as this are very rare in the United States. The approaching storm accelerated the annual winter closure of the highway leading to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon by five days.

Slevin reported from Denver.

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