Two children were found dead and another was missing in Arizona on Saturday after the vehicle they were in became stuck while crossing a storm-swollen forest creek outside Phoenix, part of a post-Thanksgiving winter storm that pummeled wide swathes of the country.
The storm system has been slowly moving eastward across the United States, clogging the Midwest with snow and disrupting flights on the busiest travel weekend of the year. It threatens freezing rain and a foot of snow.
The children were reported missing late Friday afternoon after a vehicle got stuck in Tonto Creek near Tonto Basin, northeast of Phoenix, the Gila County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. The storm also caused the death of at least one person in South Dakota.
Rescue workers in helicopters successfully reached four other children and an adult who were stranded on an island in the creek and a second adult who was on the shore. A search was launched for the three missing children.
The bodies of two children were found Saturday after a truck they were in was swept away while attempting to cross a runoff-swollen creek in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. About 30 first responders were still searching for a missing girl
The map above shows the forecast nationwide from Sunday morning 7am EST through Monday morning 7am EST
The map above shows the forecast nationwide from Monday morning 7am EST through Tuesday morning 7am EST
Snowfall amounts in the Northeast are currently forecast to be 4 to 8 inches from parts of New York, southern Vermont and New Hampshire, and Massachusetts through Sunday night
Airlines for America, the airline industry's trade group, expects 31.6 million passengers during what could be the busiest day ever recorded for American air travel on Sunday. The map aboves shows the impact to travel across the US
Two of those children, a boy and a girl, both about five-years-old, were found dead on Saturday about three miles downstream from where the vehicle became submerged, said Virgil Dodd, a sheriff spokesman.
About 30 first responders were still searching for the missing girl. 'We hope we find the last one and bring her to safety,' Dodd said.
The two adults were parents of four of the seven children involved in the incident. Dodd said the group was believed to be from out of town, but no details were known.
The group was in the area for a family reunion during the Thanksgiving holiday, the KPNX news channel reported.
Blizzards and deep snowfalls were forecast for much of the Midwest and Northeast for the rest of the weekend as millions of Americans travel home from their holiday feasts, the National Weather Service said.
Forecasters are warning of intensifying snow and freezing temperatures in the Midwest.
The National Weather Service said the storm is expected to drop six to 12 inches of snow from the northern Plains states into Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
High winds and ice are expected to make travel almost impossible in some places.
Forecasters warn that people traveling throughout the weekend should be aware of the storm's effects, with officials in states including Arizona urging travelers to wait out the weather before attempting to travel.
More than a foot of fresh snow and strong wind gusts are expected to combine to create ground blizzard conditions along the Rocky Mountain Front in northern Montana.
The National Weather Service says the blizzard warning begins at 9 p.m. Saturday and runs through Tuesday morning in areas including Browning and Heart Butte on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Meteorologist Christian Cassel told the Great Falls Tribune people could be stuck in their homes for at least a day due to the near zero visibility.
The Glacier County Sheriff's Office posted the warning on its Facebook page noting the possible 60 mph wind gusts. It advises residents to stock up on groceries and firewood and 'maybe a backlog of new memes you haven't read yet.'
It closes with an emphatic request to stay off the roads during the blizzard.
A cross at the site where three children were swept away in flooding on Tonto Creek at Tonto Basin in Arizona
A woman and a child cross the street while battling the weather on a windy and snowy morning in Greeley, Colorado on Saturday. The weather therre caused the city to cancel its annual Greeley Lights the Night parade
A driver of a pickup truck hits high water while traveling in Owensboro, Kentucky, after heavy rain in the area on Saturday
A powerful storm making its way east from California across the U.S. is causing travel chaos for millions of people returning home after Thanksgiving. Parked cars are seen covered in snow on Saturday in Denver, Colorado
A worker piles snow in a parking lot in west Denver, Colorado on Saturday. Some areas near Denver received over two feet of snow over the Thanksgiving holiday
A driver tries to dig his car out of heavy snow in foothills west of Denver, Colorado Saturday
Meanwhile the winter storm is