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Winter Storm Draco Tracker and Path LIVE: Massive Blizzard Sweeps Midwest, Latest Updates

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Draco Will Continue to Bring Blizzard Conditions Until Saturday

Picture Credit: intellicast

Weather maps show snowfall is likely to continue through Saturday as the snow moves from the Midwest into the North East.

Nearly a foot of snow has fallen in many places in Michigan and around the great lakes. Many more inches will fall today as the storm starts to calm.

Draco Storm Flight Delays: Over 1,500 Flights Cancelled

A winter storm Draco barrels across the midwest, the blizzard has caused chaos in the aviation system. Yesterday, 1,457 flights were cancelled across the United States. At both airports in Chicago, hundreds of flights have been cancelled. High winds and blizzard condidtions are expected through Friday morning. 

As of 7:30 am on Friday morning, 345 flights have been cancelled. To make travel conditions worst, New York City airports are delayed because of severe wind condidtions.

Draco Storm Updates LIVE: Iowa Police Urge Drivers to Stay Off Roads

It's time to listen to warnings and get off the road. Iowa’s highways and interstates remain in poor condition for travel. Troopers will continue to assist motorists who become stranded in this dangerous weather. But your safest bet is to avoid travel altogether. If you don’t travel, you can’t become stranded.

- Iowa State Patrol Colonel David Garrison

3 people have died in a 25-car pileup on I-35 southbound at the 150 mile marker near the border of Hamilton and Wright Counties, police officials said Thursday.

There was also a multiple-vehicle crash on I-80 near the town of Grinnell. Several trucks were involved and the eastbound lanes are apparently completely blocked.

In an interview with KCCI, Iowa State Patrol Colonel David Garrison pleaded with Iowans to stay off the roads. There is near-zero visibility, making for extremely dangerous driving conditions, according to officials. 

Draco Aftermath: 500 Chicago Flights Canceled, Massive Power Outages Expected

In anticipation of Draco's heaviest snowfalls coming between 3 PM and 9 PM, more than 500 flights have been canceled out of Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports.

Utilizing information from FlightStats, the Chicago Tribune reports that inbound flights to O'Hare are averaging a two and a half hour delay, while flights to Midway are delayed less than 15 minutes.

The Barrington Patch has a quote from Con Ed on expected power outages:

“This winter storm is expected to be especially damaging to our system as we face a potential combination of wind, snow and ice,” said Terence Donnelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer, ComEd. “We have increased staffing levels and proactively requested assistance from other utilities to ensure we are ready to quickly and safely begin power restoration efforts.” 

Illinois will reportedly dispatch 182 plows to ensure transportation remainds possible.

Another tragedy: the Weather Channel is confirming 3 dead in Draco-related traffic accidents in Iowa and Kansas, as well as a stranded driver in Utah.

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Accuweather Angered by Weather Channel's Naming of Blizzard as "Draco"

"In unilaterally deciding to name winter storms, The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety. We have explored this issue for 20 years and have found that this is not good science and will mislead the public. Winter storms are very different from hurricanes.

- Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather Founder and President

Accuweather head Joel Myers has accused the Weather Channel of "misleading" the public and hurting "science and public safety" by naming the ongoing storm Draco.

Myers released a statement stating that the Weather Channel's naming of the storm was irresponsible and misled their audience on storm tracking, claiming that due to the disparate nature of the storm's impact, Draco's naming could "create more confusion in the public and the emergency management community."

Keith Seitter of the National Meteorological Society said that TWC had not previously informed them of their decision to name the storm, stating "Given that, certainly, the AMS as an organization doesn't have a position on this at all."

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Blizzard Draco 2012: Live Update on Power Outages, Flight Cancellation, and Damage Report

News roundup:

2-3 foot drifts of snow have been reported in Dubuque, Iowa, with an average of 12.1 inches of snow coverage. Dang!

The National Guard is mobilizing in Wisconsin and Iowa, with over 200 soldiers mobilized to help. In Wisconsin, armores at Sussex, Oconomowoc, Portage, Oak Creek, Milwaukee, Appleton, Beloit, Richland Center and two in Madison have been selected as staging areas and relief shelters for storm-stricken families. The Wisconsin State Patrol and the National Weather Service both urge Wisconsonites not to drive during the storm.

Snow of up to 1-2 inches an hour culminating at around a foot total are expected to hit "upper-Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes, targeting Iowa, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, northern Missouri and northern Michigan," reports Weather.com.

Finally, ouch! Check out this SUV crushed by a Mercedes-Benz sign in Mobile, Alabama:

Draco Blizzard Phase 2: Snowfall Estimates Updated LIVE

The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center's report on where you should expect the highest level of snowfall was just released. Thanks to @TomNiziol for the compilation:

Winter Storm 2012 LIVE Updates: Airport Delay Updates, Southwest to Cancel All Flights Out of Chicago, Midway Airport After 5 PM

@FlyerPulse: Southwest to cancel #Chicago #Midway #Flights after 5pm. | Updated | #winter #storm #draco #travel #weather #ord #mdw | http://t.co/HOpfdSBf

As it says in the title, expect some major disruptions to your Holiday travel schedule if you are heading in or out of the Midwest before Saturday afternoon: Southwest Airlines has canceled all flights in and out of Midway Airport after 5 PM today.

Chicago's O'Hare Intl. Airport is reportedly experiencing average delays of over 2 hours, with over 150 canceled flights. Looks like a bad time to be traveling, folks.

Winter Storm Draco, Is It A Harbinger of the End of the World 2012?

No one is totally sure if the apocalypse is coming or what tomorrow, but here's a clear signal: plenty of Des Moines folks that thought they would have work off today thanks to Draco can now rush off to sit at their desks in the middle of a huge snowstorm.

The West Des Moines Patch reports that DART service will be resuming at 11:45, though the Express routes (Westown, Vista, and E.P. True) will not be running today. All services will resume Friday.

Other proof the end is coming? Check out these creepy, apocalyptic pics from Twitter:

1. From @BadgerFootball, a scene that looks like it came from a Roland Emmerich movie:

2. From @DonnaCamarata, a world filled with snow:

3. From @NickWFox, horrifying damage at McConnell:

4. This is apparently what it looks like where @bornchrisway lives in Lake Forest, Illinois:

No word yet on whether the packs of roving wolves consuming entire crowds of people in downtown Madison, Illinois have been contained.

Blizzard 2012: Does Draco Need A Name?

The winter storms need categories, like “F1? or “Hurricane” that indicate the seriousness of the storm. My colleague suggested, “Eh,” “Negligible,” “Whoa,” and “Hit the Deck!” Each would, of course, need to be announced in an appropriate and well-rehearsed tone of voice, preferably with a sound track and over-the-top graphics. The storm names should have also categories. In the end, Draco Malfoy was a mostly ineffective sniveling coward, so that could reflect on the nature of the intended storm.

- Cat White

Winter storm Draco has left 400,000 customers without electricty and dumped over a foot of snow on Des Moines. But should the Weather Channel be giving names to snowstorms, or is this pointless sensationalism?

From blogger Cat White:

"This seems like it belongs in the same category as “Invented Holidays Designed to Sell Stuff” (does anyone even still remember “Sweetest Day?”)."

"I couldn’t find this discussed, but I wonder if their list is copyrighted (unlike the National Hurricane Centerlist)?  Also, does this just apply to national storms?  How big does a storm have to be or how far does it have to travel before it merits a name?  For those of us in the Snow Belt, we can get hit seriously without the rest of the country noticing.  Do we get our own names that are geographically relevant?"

In the Weather Channel's defense, they're trying to put up some consistent and logical reasons why they started naming winter storms:

1. Naming a storm raises awareness.

2. Attaching a name makes it much easier to follow a weather system’s progress.

3. A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.

4. In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication.

Well, I never said they were GOOD reasons.

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Winter Storm Draco Tracker and Path LIVE: Massive Blizzard Sweeps Midwest, Latest Updates

Picture Credit: National Weather Service

Tens of thousands of Iowans have lost power on Thursday as the first major winter storm of the season, dubbed ‘Draco’, moves across the Midwest.

The National Weather service has issued a blizzard warning for a wide-ranging slice of the Midwest, from eastern Colorado to the shoreline of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. The report warns of heavy snow and strong winds to a large portion of the Great Lakes region Thursday and Friday, with up to 12 inches of accumulated snow and 25- to 35-mph winds that may flare up to 45- to 50-mph. Residents in Door County, Wisconsin may experience gusts of up to 60mph.

Some 30,000 people do not have access to electricity in Iowa, mostly in the Des Moines area, MidAmerican Energy told CNN.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has preemptively declared a state of emergency and mobilized the National Guard, state police and other agencies to deal with emergencies. The National Weather Service has encouraged those in the storm area to refrain from driving motor vehicles.

Few airlines are reporting cancellations, but expect delays beginning Thursday.

U.S. Highway 6 in Colorado is closed at LovelandPass, while a 156-mile stretch of Interstate Highway 70 between Denver and the Kansas border were closed for a period of time Wednesday, according to various transportation agencies. U.S. Highway 385 was closed in the Cheyenne Wells territory Wednesday, but reopened Thursday.

Draco will move into the Northeast by Friday, after hitting the Midwest with a “strong dose of rain, sleet and snow, with a few hail-packing thunderstorms thrown in for good measure,” also according to CNN. Depending on wind and other weather conditions, snow drifts may reach several feet in some areas.

The Indiana-Ohio-Michigan tri-state area, Missouri, and Kansas have currently been put under a winter weather advisory.

CNN reports:

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