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First significant snow of winter to hit central U.S.

By Reuters
Sunday, December 4, 2011 5:27 EDT
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AUSTIN, Tex (Reuters) – Up to 12 inches of snow was expected to fall in parts of Colorado and New Mexico on Saturday as a storm system moved through the central U.S., bringing what forecasters said would be the first significant snow of the season to the region.

From New Mexico to the Great Lakes, the storm that brought damaging winds to Western states and several inches of snow to the Rockies on Friday is set to drop four to seven inches of snow in other states in the region, including Nebraska and Kansas, according to forecasters.

Sioux City, Iowa was expecting up to five inches of snow by the end of the day, and police were already reporting more than a dozen car crashes on Saturday afternoon due to the slick roads.

In Omaha, Neb., the first significant snowfall of the season coincided with Saturday’s college soccer playoff game featuring the hometown Creighton University and a team from a place where it snows about once every two decades or so: the University of South Florida in Tampa.

The NCAA provided yellow balls for the elite eight matchup but the afternoon game was postponed until noon Sunday to give crews time to clear the field.

The storm was expected to leave as much as 6 inches of snow in eastern Nebraska by Sunday morning.

About four inches of snow on the ground in Pueblo, Colorado on Saturday afternoon did not deter business at Shamrock Brewing Company, where patrons were enjoying a beer in spite of the winter weather, said bartender Heather Ramsey.

“There’s almost a rush in business during the snowy days,” she said. “It’s almost like people want to get out. They don’t want to get too far, but they don’t stay home.”

Residents of the high country in Arizona were on the lookout for snow later Saturday as well, with forecasters predicting up to eight inches in Flagstaff by Saturday night.

The same system was bringing rain to parts of north Texas, as well as parts of Michigan and Iowa.

Temperatures below freezing was causing dangerous driving conditions in Michigan, where rain was freezing on roads, according to Accuweather.com.

The northern Great Lakes can expect snow accumulation on Saturday night, forecasters said.

Travel on several interstate highways is expected to be affected by the wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain, according to Accuweather.com forecasters, including I-25, I-29, I-35, I-39, I-40, I-70, I-80, I-90 and I-94.

The National Weather Service issued an advisory on Saturday warning of potential heavy rain in parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas on Saturday night in advance of a cold front expected to hit the area late Saturday or early Sunday.

A second winter storm is expected to develop on Sunday evening in New Mexico, across Texas and into Oklahoma, bringing temperatures down to the 20s for some areas and sparking the potential for snow, sleet or ice.

Also starting Sunday, forecasters will be watching for heavy rains to drench an already saturated area from Arkansas to the Ohio Valley, raising the potential for floods in that area next week, according to Accuweather.com.

(Editing by Greg McCune)

Mochila insert follows.

Reuters
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