ST LOUIS (AP):Holiday travellers in the Midwest and other parts of the United States are keeping a leery eye on a band of foul weather stretching across the nation's midsection that was threatening to mar one of the year's busiest travel periods.
Forecasters have predicted a stew of foul weekend weather, from freezing rain and snow in the north to torrential rain in the Ohio Valley and Appalachia, and possibly even tornadoes in the South.
The worst of the storm was expected to hit Midwest population centres late yesterday but had already started taking a toll on air travel.
FlightStats.com reported more than 1,900 delays, with the most at Chicago's O'Hare, Denver Inter-national, and the three big New York-area airports.
The foul weather could cause headaches for the estimated 94.5 million Americans planning to travel by road or air during this holiday season, which runs from yesterday through New Year's Day.
Concerns were similar a month ago, when a winter storm hit just as people were travelling for Thanksgiving.
While much of the East awoke to unusually warm temperatures last Friday, the storm was causing pre-Christmas travel worries from Chicago and Detroit to Boston and New York.
In New England, communities were planning for a bit of everything - snow, sleet and rain - but were most concerned about the threat of freezing rain.
The National Weather Service predicted that parts of Maine could get more than a half-inch coating of ice, which would make roads treacherous and cause widespread power outages.
"The best advice for everyone is just to really pay attention. With every few hours, we're going to get better information," Maine Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lynnette Miller said.
Freezing rain snarled traffic in Oklahoma and police blamed at least one traffic death on the weather.