Weather & Natural Disasters

Blizzard Bearing Down on Iowa, Great Plains, But Won't Hit Until After Caucuses

Alexander Smith
The Plains and Midwest under blizzard watch

Iowa and four other states were directly in the path of a massive snowstorm barreling across the Plains on Monday, but it's not going to bury the Hawkeye State until after most of the caucusing is over.

"The southwest corner of Iowa is most likely where the caucuses will be affected by light snow, but the storm should not impact most places," Weather Channel Lead Meteorologist Kevin Roth told NBC News.

Still, the storm is likely to pack a wallop in the five states under blizzard watches and warnings, dumping up to 18 inches of snow and snarling traffic for millions. And it remains to be seen whether the threat of bad weather will keep Iowans from the caucus sites on Tuesday.

Although the largest snow totals were expected in rural areas, Iowa's biggest city, Des Moines, is expected to get socked with anywhere from 6 inches to a foot of snow through Wednesday. Similar amounts of powder are in the forecast for Denver, Omaha and Green Bay, forecasters said.

The storm is expected to move eastward through Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, later Monday, before intensifying Tuesday as it reaches Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Flight delays and cancellations could hit airports in Denver, Minneapolis and even Chicago, according to The Weather Channel.

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Parts of Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa could get up to 18 inches of snow by the time the storm moves into the northeast and turns to mostly rain on Wednesday.

The system has already moved through southern California, where a woman was killed when high winds uprooted a tree and crushed her car and 80,000 homes and businesses were left without power. Blizzard warnings in effect for parts of California and Nevada were lifted early Monday.

In the Californian mountains, 16 inches of snow was reported at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area through Sunday afternoon. This snow had shifted into parts of Nevada, Utah and Colorado early Monday, where it was already "snowing pretty good" at 6 a.m. ET, according to Roth.