National

Dec 9, 2009 8:30 AM by Associated Press

Fierce winter storm hits Midwest with snow, wind

Wind advisories and warnings are in effect from New Mexico to the Mid-Atlantic states as a massive storm brings snow, ice and rain over much of the country.

At least five deaths are being blamed on the weather.

Forecasters say parts of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin could get a foot or more of snow and wind gusts could hit 50 mph. The combination threatens to create 15-foot drifts in parts of the Upper Midwest.

The system has drenched California with heavy rains and brought blizzard conditions elsewhere. It's expected to drop more than three feet of snow over rural New York by week's end. Residents are being told to deflate blow-up Santas so gusty winds won't sweep them away.

Forecasters predict two-thirds of the country will be affected by the storm by the time it moves off the Maine coast tomorrow night.

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