Snow, winds slow after tangling traffic, threatening holiday travel

Wintry weather temporarily loosened its grip across much of the U.S. just in time for Thanksgiving, after tangling holiday travelers in wind, ice and snow and before more major storms descend Friday.

There were some exceptions to the respite, particularly involving California's main north-south Highway 5, which was shut down early Thursday as heavy snow softly blanketed the region.

But high winds that had ripped a wooden sign from scaffolding on Chicago's Willis Tower and nearly felled a Christmas Tree to close Cleveland's Public Square Wednesday were calm enough by Thursday morning to allow the Macy's Day Parade in New York to proceed, albeit with balloons flying at lower levels.

The National Weather Service predicted things could get dicey - if not impassable - for holiday travelers' trips home. Forecasters warned against travel Friday night through Saturday night in a stretch of country form northeast Wyoming to northwest South Dakota due to expected blizzard conditions.

The next storm system was expected to drop up to 2 feet of additional snow from the Sierra Nevada to the central and northern Rockies as it rolls across a large swatch of the western and central United States.

In California, authorities grappling with the second closure of I-5 in three days suggested alternate routes Thursday as they worked to clear the road. A previous closure on Tuesday stranded hundreds of people, and Thursday's seemed likely to separate some families for the holiday.

Long stretches of two interstate highways in northern Arizona's high country also were expected to be closed between late Thursday and early Friday because of expected heavy snowfall.

In Ohio, crews had restored power to about 90 percent of those affected by Wednesday power outages caused by high winds. At peak, 42,000 customers in central Ohio and 39,000 in northeast Ohio were without electricity.

___

Associated Press writers Martha Mendoza in San Jose, California, and Don Babwin in Chicago contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.