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A massive winter storm system packing cold air, snow and freezing rain was pummeling the central United States today and headed for the East Coast, sending temperatures plummeting and causing major delays for weekend travellers.
Rainfall and snow associated with the system will stretch over 2414km, stretching from southeastern Colorado to southern Massachusetts, meteorologists said.
The storm "is going to be a real mess," said Bruce Sullivan, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"The main system is injecting a lot of moisture and cold air out over the Southern Plains," he said. "It's going to bring quite a bit of precipitation."
Up to 30cm of snow could fall on an area from eastern Kansas to Pennsylvania before the system dissipates tomorrow.
More than 1,300 flights were cancelled and another 1,744 were delayed as of late Sunday morning, according to the airline tracking site FlightAware.com.
"Ripple-effect flight delays and cancellations are likely to reach nationwide," said AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
The storm could also further deplete salt supplies used to ice roads and highways, already at critical lows after a snowy winter in the Northeast.