(CNN) — Two powerful storms are leaving much of the United States struggling with blackouts, whiteouts and gusty winds on Thanksgiving Day — and the nightmare could continue in some areas into the holiday weekend.
More than 950 flights in the United States had been delayed by early afternoon Thursday, with more than 30 canceled, according to FlightAware.
And the weather pattern promises to stay active, the National Weather Service said.
“Widespread winter weather, flash flood and wind watches, warnings and advisories are currently in effect … across large portions of the nation,” the agency said.
More than 144,000 homes and businesses were without power late Thursday morning nationwide, mainly in California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Maine, according to utility tracking site PowerOutage.us.
The weather has been so chaotic, 32 states at one point were under some sort of watch, warning or weather advisory. One system pounded Western states with rain and snow, while an East Coast storm dumped snow as its high winds knocked out power.
Millions face a ‘cornucopia of hazards’
The storm in the western US has put more than 20 million people under a winter threat, CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said.
In California’s Grapevine area between Bakersfield and Los Angeles, heavy snow forced officials to close Interstate 5 for part of Thursday morning.
As the storm system moves toward the East Coast, it could deliver ice on Thursday and Friday to the middle of the country, then mess up travel into the Monday commute, he said.
“Thanksgiving 2019 will be remembered as a stormy day for many in the West. A cornucopia of hazards will continue to develop eastward across the country through the weekend,” the National Weather Service said.
Winter storm watches, warnings and advisories touch parts of every western state from Arizona to Montana.
In Arizona, the weather service warned of “impossible travel conditions” Thursday and early Friday, with heavy and drifting snow.
Heavy rains will also pose a flash-flooding threat in Southern California through Thanksgiving and in the Southwest by early Friday, the weather service said.
City officials declared a snow emergency Wednesday in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.
The storm set November low-pressure records in parts of Oregon and Northern California, the National Weather Service said.
Winds threatened parade balloon flights
The weather threatened — but could not derail — an iconic facet of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The event’s 16 giant character balloons aren’t supposed to be flown when sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph, per New York City regulations. The winds got close to that, as gusts of 32 mph were recorded in Central Park.
In the end, officials allowed the balloons to float along the parade route Thursday, with handlers keeping them fairly low to the ground so they would be more manageable.