DES MOINES, Iowa — A fierce winter storm was leaving dangerous ice, heavy snow and vicious winds in its wake as it slogged eastward early Wednesday, threatening to wreak havoc on morning commuters across the Upper Midwest before crawling into New England.
More than a foot of snow was expected in parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, where the National Weather Service warned of "extremely dangerous blizzard conditions." Wind gusts of up to 50 mph could create snow drifts of 8 to 15 feet.
"Anybody traveling (Wednesday) morning is really taking a huge risk I would say — a risk of being stranded and not having anybody be able to help you for 6 or 12 hours, probably," said Karl Jungbluth, a weather service meteorologist in Johnston, Iowa.
Blizzard warnings also covered eastern Nebraska, northeastern Kansas and southern Minnesota early Wednesday.
Parts of New England girded themselves for bone-chilling wind gusts and snow accumulations of up to a foot by Wednesday afternoon.
The storm, which pounded the West with rain, wind and snow earlier this week, may affect as much as two-thirds of the country by the time it moves off the Maine coast Thursday night, said Jim Lee, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines.