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Powerful twin storms cause Thanksgiving travel "nightmare"

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after a blizzard struck overnight in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after a blizzard struck overnight in Bloomington, Minnesota. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Two powerful storm systems are causing chaos as they dump snow and heavy rain across the United States, threatening the Thanksgiving holiday plans of millions of Americans. And the "bomb cyclone" that struck the West Coast could bring a third storm to the east, the Washington Post reports.

What's happening: The wild weather "choked transportation across the center of the nation," the New York Times reports. Over 200 flights were canceled by early Thursday and over 3,000 more were delayed, per Flightaware. Denver was one of the first places to be impacted by the storms. On Tuesday, 463 flights were canceled there, as the Colorado capital was pummeled by heavy snow.

  • The "bomb cyclone" that "crashed ashore" in the Northwest Tuesday night with 100 mph winds was unleashing heavy snow over the Sierra Nevada while hitting Southern California with "heavy rain, coastal flooding and even isolated thunderstorms," per the Washington Post, which notes it's expected to bring rain and "heavy mountain snows into Utah, Nevada and parts of Colorado."
  • The storms forced temporary road closures Tuesday and Wednesday "from Redding, California, all the way to the Oregon border," AP reports.
  • A "kitchen sink" storm was attacking communities in the Plains and Upper Midwest, WashPost notes.
  • Tornadoes were reported in Mississippi and Louisiana, while there were power outages in Missouri and Illinois and parts of the Midwest were "blanketed by heavy snow," the New York Times reports.
  • "Thundersnow" and "thundersleet" pounded Nebraska, per WashPost notes, which described the pre-Thanksgiving travel situation as a "nightmare."

By the numbers: 1.6 million of the anticipated 55 million Thanksgiving travelers have trips of 50 or more miles planned, a 2.9% increase in travelers from last year. 49.3 million of the total travelers intend to drive.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.