TODAY   |  December 22, 2013

Severe weather causing holiday travel headaches

A huge storm system in the center of the country will slowly spread eastward through the remainder of the weekend as two air masses collide, affecting nearly 68 million people in 35 states. TODAY’s Dylan Dreyer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> christmas. the wild weather, the last thing people traveling all over, here in new york and in the northeast it's warm. the central plains have been slammed with ice and snow. two killed in mississippi where wild weather also damaged several homes, knocked down trees and left tens of thousands without power.

>> that, of course, is creating chaos for holiday travellers from the gulf coast into eastern canada . more than 90 million people are expected to be traveling this weekend.

>> dylan, you've been keeping a close eye on this and what it means for travel plans.

>> unfortunately it is such a huge travel weekend. we are seeing the storm system moving out of the middle of the country slowly making its way eastward. that will continue to do so through the remainder of this weekend as two different air masses collide, affecting 68 million people in 35 states. on this first full day of winter, severe weather is wreaking havoc over much of the country.

>> this weather system will have a massive expanse of weather of one kind or another.

>> reporter: overnight in mississippi, storms are being blamed for the deaths of two people. near oak ona, kentucky, winds gusting 70 miles per hour downed power lines setting fire to nine cars saturday night. in arkansas, a tornado caused accidents, damaged three homes and injured three people near the small town of hues. throughout the midwest, roads in kansas coated with ice.

>> there's thick ice. i just seen a car drive off earlier. the front end was covered in ice.

>> reporter: thousands were without power in oklahoma as ice and winds snarled power lines . residents in indiana and ohio had been gearing up for potential flooding, all of this while an estimated 95 million americans tried to travel over this weekend. on saturday alone more than 400 flights were canceled, another 6,200 delayed.

>> we were going to see family, but we'll have to reschedule.

>> reporter: then this sight, kids sledding in arizona. on the east coast , spring-like weather, temperatures reaching the 60s in albany, new york , have closed ice skating rinks while temperatures nearing 80 in south carolina saw others at the beach. so this storm system is continuing do move east right now. you can see back across the western great lakes, that's where we still have the snow, but we have really heavy rain approaching atlanta right now as this storm system continues to move eastward. we even have some ice across parts of northern new england at this time. that's going to make roads very, very challenging up that way. we coupled still see some stronger storms today down through the southeast, not as strong as yesterday, but we could still see very gusty winds and the snow is all the way through the northern plains through the great lakes where we will see steadier snow in the chicago area as we go through the day today. airports, we are going to see delays from minneapolis to chicago because of heavy rain down in atlanta even into charlotte. washington, d.c. could even see a few delays today because of the rain that will move in there. new york into boston, again, mostly rain with these heavier downpours that will move through. for those of you driving again, it will be a little slippery, especially in nips, through wisconsin into chicago. heavy rain will slow you down across the southeast. northern new england will see the ice that makes things slippery. christmas eve and christmas day all this rain is going to move eastward through the day today. watch what happens. by tomorrow we'll see things clear out. that will stick around through tuesday and into krs mass day as well. but it's going to be much, much colder. temperatures more seasonal with highs in the teens, 20s and 30s which is certainly what you expect.