TODAY

TODAY   |  December 14, 2010

Deadly storm brings more winter misery

A major winter storm is inching its way across the country, leaving a snowy path of havoc in its wake and causing at least 15 deaths. NBC’s John Yang reports from Michigan City, Ind., and TODAY’s Al Roker reports from Dunkirk, N.Y.

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MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: But we begin this morning with a major winter storm causing problems all across the east. We're going to check in with Al , who is in western New York in a moment, but let us start off with NBC 's John Yang . He is in Michigan City , Indiana , for us. Good morning to you, John .

JOHN YANG reporting: Good morning, Meredith . From the shores of Lake Michigan , you may be able to see the snow blowing in off the lake. There is a lake-effect snow advisory still in effect here. This will be the third straight day of snowfall here. In some areas there are two feet of the snow already on the ground, and the wind is creating drifts up to four feet high. For drivers it's not a winter wonderland , it's a winter whiteout. In the Midwest , blowing snow covered roads and highways as fast as they could be cleared, snarling traffic and triggering accidents. In northwestern Indiana ...

Unidentified Man #1: They told us to shut it down here and try and keep traffic heading that way.

YANG: ...more than 100 cars and trucks were stuck on snow-covered highways. Drivers who were able to move found that the hard part was stopping.

Unidentified Man #2: Ice is what you got to really watch for, and you try and step on the brakes and you're all over the road.

YANG: This isn't an ocean, this is Lake Michigan . Waves 25 feet high, wind gusts up to 35 miles an hour. Americans from the Great Lakes to Florida are in the deep freeze. In Chicago , officials warned of the dangerous, bitter cold.

Ms. SUZET McKINNEY (Chicago Department of Public Health): All Chicagoans should avoid making unnecessary trips outside.

YANG: It's all part of the massive winter storm that stranded travelers at Chicago's O'Hare Airport and dramatically deflated the inflatable roof of the Twin Cities ' Metrodome stadium. In Missouri , a woman in her 60s had to be rescued after a van was spotted in an icy pond. She was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Outside Kansas City , a man returned from a weekend trip to find that a broken water main had coated his house in ice. The mercury dipped in parts of the country not used to freezing temperatures, from Virginia ...

Unidentified Man #3: I don't like it.

YANG: ...to Georgia...

Unidentified Girl: It's nice and fun and cold.

YANG: ..all the way to Florida . Here in the Midwest , some tried to look on the bright side.

Unidentified Woman: We dig each other's cars out and I -- you know, it's a blessing in the end because you get that sense of community, but, yeah, there's lots of snow to get through.

YANG: Roads are still closed in this area, making travel dangerous, treacherous and sometimes just plain impossible. The storm's moved on from here, but the snow is still hanging on. Matt :

MATT LAUER, co-host: All right, John Yang in Michigan City for us this morning. John , thanks very much. When will this arctic blast end? Al has made his way to Dunkirk , New York , along the shores of Lake Erie , about 400 miles northwest of here. Al , good morning to you.

AL ROKER reporting: Good morning, Matt. Schools are closed, businesses are having trouble staying open. Here in the -- this is about an hour south of Buffalo , New York . That's Lake Erie behind me. The winds are howling at about 35 miles per hour . Temperatures are in the low teens, wind chills anywhere from zero to five below. And we're going to continue to get this arctic blast coming across the Great Lakes causing lake-effect snow on all five Great Lakes . Snowfall amounts over the next 48 hours, we're talking in the Syracuse area another one to two feet, back through western New York , western Pennsylvania , about five to six inches to eight inches of snow. And, of course, the cold air. We're talking about bitterly cold temperatures. You can see the jet stream dips way to the south. These are departures from normal. About 24 degrees below normal in Charleston , 21 degrees below, Miami and Tampa . Actual temperatures right now. You can see it is bitterly cold, 29 in Orlando . The good news is in Plant City where they have got all the citrus and strawberry crops, temperatures a little bit warmer. Twelve in Buffalo right now. Wind chills make it feel well below zero around much of the Great Lakes . Single digits in Atlanta . We're not going to see really any moderation until sometime Thursday. Afternoon highs today getting up only into the single digits throughout much of the Great Lakes , upper 40s to low 50s down into Florida . And then the jet stream takes a little bit of a moderate jog to the north. That keeps the cold air banked up around the Great Lakes , and then temperatures moderate down through the Southeast . But again, here in the Great Lakes , the wind chill , the winds and the snow a big, big