The first major winter storm of the season named Draco slammed into the Midwest this week, dumping heavy snow and causing all types of problems. Portions of the Great Lakes got a foot and a half of snow by Friday morning coupled with high winds that brought down trees and power lines. The storm was part of a system that began in the Rocky Mountains earlier in the week. As the big system chugged along slowly toward the east, it claimed at least five lives. Two people died in Iowa as a result of a 25 car pileup on an interstate there. The accident was caused by slick roads and limited visibility due to drifting snow. Draco is expected to spin its way north through New England and into Canada over the weekend.

In portions of upper Michigan, people were forced to shovel very wet and heavy snow Friday morning to clear walks and driveways. That type of snow is referred to as “concrete snow”. Many northern communities in the Great Lake State got between 18 and 21 inches. The heavy snow downed many tree limbs and powerlines, resulting in power outages in many northern Michigan communities.

December 21st was the first official day of winter and the arrival of Draco left 18 states dealing with issues like heavy snow, rain, ice, high winds and closed roadways. More than 100 miles of interstate highways across the Midwest had to be shut down at the height of the storm. Draco is pushing its way into the Northeast, complicating holiday plans for millions of Americans on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Nearly 20 inches of snow fell in Wisconsin Thursday while parts of Iowa saw more than a foot. 50 mile per hour wind gusts quickly led to white-out conditions across much of the country’s mid-section Friday morning. In Indiana, a semi-truck which spun out of control on a bridge, struck an embankment, killing the driver. A school bus carrying children in Michigan hit a fallen tree on a road in white-out conditions. No injuries occurred.

High winds contained in the southern portions of the winter storm caused wind damage in Texas and in Alabama . The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado struck in Mobile where several roofs were peeled off buildings. All the way from Texas to Iowa, strong winds left tens of thousands without power. The Green Bay Packers asked fans on their Facebook page to help shovel out Lambeau Field ahead of Sunday’s game for the pay of $10 an hour.

Updated: December 22, 2012 — 3:50 pm
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