Nearly 100 million Americans were under a winter weather alert Friday as a sprawling storm is expected to create hazardous travel conditions from the Plains into northeastern U.S. through the weekend, forecasters warn.
Already Friday, a plane slid off a taxiway at Kansas City International Airport due to icy conditions that also forced the closure of schools, universities and government offices in many areas.
The Delta Air Lines A319 was taxiing from the terminal Friday morning when the nose wheel dropped off the taxiway pavement. Officials said there are no known injuries on that flight.
Forecasters posted a blizzard warning for parts of the Upper Midwest as the storm began to gather steam. In South Dakota and Minnesota, dozens of schools canceled classes Friday ahead of snowfall expected during the day.
In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly closed state offices in the Topeka area, urging people to “stay safe and warm, exercise caution and allow road crews to do their job.”
The combination of snow and high winds will cause whiteout conditions and substantial drifting, AccuWeather said. Travel will be "difficult to impossible," the weather service office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, warned.
Some of the heaviest snow will fall Friday and Friday night in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, AccuWeather said, possibly piling up to a foot in some areas.
The storm should cause "a fairly widespread area of travel difficulty over the central U.S. by Friday night, with very slippery roads and locally poor visibility," the weather service said.
In Iowa, the weather service in Des Moines warned that the wet, heavy snow will combine with ice accumulations and gusty winds to bring the threat of downed power lines and tree branches.
Freezing rain is also expected from the southern Plains into the mid-Mississippi Valley and the mid-Atlantic region, the weather service said.
By Saturday, moderate to heavy snow is expected in portions of Pennsylvania, New York and much of New England. A foot of snow or more could pile up in parts of the central Appalachians and New England.
Farther south, "enough snow and ice is likely to fall with this storm to create slippery travel from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore to New York City with a general coating to an inch or two forecast for these areas along Interstate 95," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dave Dombek.
Behind this storm, strong winds blowing over the primarily still warm and unfrozen Great Lakes will manufacture bands of heavy lake-effect snow Sunday, possibly lingering into Monday in the lake snowbelts, the Weather Channel said.
Contributing: The Associated Press