Winter weather advisories were in effect Friday for much of the upper Midwest as a large band of snow and ice pushed its way east. Snow was in some portion of the weekend forecast from Minneapolis all the way to New England and nearly 700 flights were cancelled at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports.
While large snowstorms are not uncommon this time of year, the weather in much of the nation -- so far -- this winter has been relatively mild... nothing like last year when Mother Nature unleashed her fury in record proportions.
Losses due to a dozen natural disasters exceeded $1 billion. Federal money has already poured in for many of those affected and this week even more relief was announced to help repair, rebuild and guard against future calamities.
The Agriculture Department announced this week $300 million in disaster relief funds will be spread across 33 states impacted by tornadoes, floods and tropical storms. USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency will administrate the money to help repair farmland and associated properties damaged during the intense year of natural disasters.
Twenty percent of the money will go to the state of Utah where residents dealt with two rounds of flooding following record snowpack.
Almost $50 million will go Missouri which was also inundated with water on the state’s eastern and western borders. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intentionally blew a hole in a levee on the Mississippi River in an effort to prevent a larger footprint of damage. Water inundated land along the Missouri River for months. State officials hope to use the money to repair damages and remove silt and debris remaining in drainage ditches and from deadly tornadoes.
Tornadoes also ripped through the state of Alabama last spring, causing widespread devastation. The state will receive $16 million overall with $6 million earmarked for the poultry industry.
And tropical storms Irene and Lee left a path of destruction along the eastern seaboard last summer. Now relief is on the way to the tune of $4.2 million in North Carolina; $41 million New York and $8.7 million in Vermont.