Western Winter Storm Leaves 8 Dead, Could Create Thanksgiving Travel ‘Nightmare’

A Western winter storm has already been blamed for at least eight deaths and is barreling eastward just in time to grind Thanksgiving travel to a halt.

The storm has brought both snow and heavy rains to the southwestern United States, causing countless accidents from California to Texas and leaving some motorists stranded. The storm has spread across a wide area, spread upward as far as Northern California.

There is still a danger for people in Southwestern states, with ice storms possible in Texas and snow forecast for Oklahoma. Parts of Oklahoma have already seen up to 12 inches of snow, leaving roads nearly unpassable.

It is now working its way through the plains states, and is forecast to hit coastal Texas and Louisiana by Monday.

Forecasters expect the Western winter storm to make its way into the Southeast by Tuesday, delivering heavy rains and wind. It will then turn north and move up the East Coast, arriving just in time for mid-week Thanksgiving travel.

With close to 39 million people expected to hit the highways between Wednesday and Sunday and another 3 million flying to their destinations, the Western winter storm could cause havoc.

“If the storm hugs the coast and develops to its full potential, it could be a flight nightmare, not only for travelers in the East, but also throughout the nation,” AccuWeather.com’s Evan Myers said.

The Western winter storm is being blamed for a number of deadly crashes, including a multi-vehicle crash last Friday outside Amarillo, Texas, that left three people dead. In New Mexico, a 4-year-old girl died when the vehicle she was riding in slid of an icy highway and overturned. A man in Oakland was also killed when a power line fell and electrocuted him.

The Western winter storm also caused the tour bus for Willie Nelson and his band to lose control on a Texas highway, sending it crashing into an overpass support. One of the band members, Paul English, broke his hip in the accident.