Apocalyptic Weather Hits Across United States

Blizzards, 'thundersnow,' and supercell tornadoes abound.

Motorists travel west along I-70 and into a winter storm near Lawrence, Kan., Dec. 20, 2012.
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The world may not end tomorrow, but in parts of the country it must seem like it.

The severe winter storm that buried the Mountain West and Northwest has begun to wreak havoc on the Midwest while huge rotating thunderstorms and tornadoes are ripping the Southeast, resulting in snared flights in the country's two biggest airports during the always-busy holiday season.

Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin are seeing blizzard conditions thanks to Winter Storm Draco, a powerful winter storm that brought 100 mph winds and up to 28 inches of snow to Washington and Oregon.

The region's first major snowstorm is forecast to be the most intense winter storm in 16 years, according to the Des Moines Register. Draco is currently dropping flurries at about 1 to 2 inches per hour, and in an apocalyptic twist, some "thundersnow" has been reported. In Des Moines, up to 13 inches have already fallen amid winds gusting to 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

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An estimated 50,000 people are without power in Iowa and Nebraska already, and the whiteout has closed schools throughout Draco's path. Both states have recommended no travel due to the high winds and low visibility.

In Wisconsin, an estimated 8 inches are already on the ground, and Gov. Scott Walker has sent more than 100 National Guard soldiers to the worst-hit areas. Draco is expected to strengthen slightly as it slowly crosses over the state.

The storm is expected to continue on its northwestern path into southern Wisconsin, where it will likely clog up one the nation's second-busiest airport, Chicago O'Hare. As of 9 a.m. ET, about 90 flights had been cancelled. United Airlines has announced it will waive the flight change fees for travelers going through O'Hare.

Meanwhile, in Alabama and Mississippi, a supercell thunderstorm has already done extensive damage to the region. The National Weather service reported several funnel clouds in the Mobile, Ala., area this morning.

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The line of thunderstorms is expected to cause significant delays at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the country's busiest. The storms will likely continue to move north where the high winds and rain will continue but lesser chance of tornadoes due to the cooler air, according to Weather Underground.

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Seth Cline is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at scline@usnews.com.