Severe weather causes two injuries, cancellation of college football game
Ray Sanchez, CNN
(CNN) — Severe winter weather caused injuries aboard an American Airlines flight, the cancellation of a college football bowl game, and general havoc across the south and western US on Wednesday.
Two passengers were injured aboard an American Airlines flight on Wednesday night as weather in the Dallas-Fort Worth area created turbulence on board. The flight, operated by Mesa Airlines, was diverted to Austin, Texas due to the weather and landed safely at 5:39 p.m. local time, American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said.
Upon arrival, a few passengers and crew requested medical attention, Feinstein said. One passenger and one flight attendant were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries of knee pain and neck pain, he said.
Both were released on Wednesday night. There was no damage to the aircraft.
The major winter storm created near blizzard conditions in the north and severe storms and flooding in the south. The website Poweroutage.us is reporting more than 65,000 customers are without power in the state of Texas on Thursday morning.
More than eight million people were under winter weather alerts from the Upper Midwest down to New Mexico, according to CNN meteorologist Haley Brink.
Severe storms with the threat of damaging winds and tornadoes will continue throughout the evening and overnight hours — beginning in Texas and heading east into Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee into the early morning hours.
Holiday travel by road and air will be hampered by icy roads and limited visibility in the north, and wet roads with severe storms in the south. More than 5,000 flights within, into or out of the US were delayed, according to FlightAware.
Folks traveling through the Plains and Midwest will need to be extra cautious as roads throughout the region will remain hazardous into Friday.
First Responder Bowl game canceled
A series of lightning strikes from a powerful storm in Dallas forced the cancellation of the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl between No. 23 Boise State and Boston College.
Boston College was leading 7-0 with 5:08 remaining in the first quarter when lighting struck near the historic Cotton Bowl. A game delay turned into a cancellation nearly an hour and a half later, after more lightning and the threat of more severe weather.
The game was officially declared a no contest. It’s the first bowl game in history to be canceled because of inclement weather, organizers said on the bowl’s website.
Players and fans who traveled from Idaho and Massachusetts for the game in Texas were among the millions of Americans caught in nasty winter weather across wide swaths of the country this holiday season.
“You fly all the way down here and unfortunately the weather wasn’t good enough,” Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien said in a statement.
“It wasn’t safe enough to play. I will be able to go out and enjoy a meal with my family tonight and hopefully others will, too.”
Bowl officials said the game was canceled in the interest of player and fan safety.
Kansas declares state of disaster emergency
A storm descending on the region Wednesday is expected to dump 8 to 12 inches of snow over the course of the week, with up to 2 feet in some areas. Eastern Colorado, western Nebraska and the Dakotas are expected to be hit the hardest.
The storm could also bring blizzard conditions, making travel all the more hazardous.
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer on Wednesday issued a disaster emergency declaration ahead of the storm expected to hit western portions of the state. His office urged people to change or delay travel plans.
“We hope that travelers will be wise by paying attention to weather alerts and not unnecessarily placing themselves in harm’s way as the storm moves through,” Colyer said in a statement.
On Christmas night, the storm moved into the Four Corners region, where rain and strong wind gusts affected parts of Arizona, and up toward the north. Denver began to see light snow showers on the outskirts of the city toward the east.
In the South, more than 18 million will be under a slight risk for severe storms Wednesday, possibly bringing strong winds, large hail and isolated tornadoes in the afternoon and evening.
Texas could get walloped, according to forecasts, and Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston and San Antonio — as well as Shreveport, Louisiana, near the Texas border — all lie within the storm’s cross hairs.
Much of the South will see 2 to 4 inches of rain, possibly more in some areas, which could spur the threat of flooding through Friday.
According to a report this month from the American Automobile Association, 112.5 million Americans are expected to be traveling during the holidays — a record and a 4.4% increase over last year.
Of those, about 102.1 million will be driving. Another 6.7 million will fly. The rest will take trains, buses or boats, AAA says.