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Morning Express with Robin Meade

A fast, personal, and smart blend of all the news you want in the morning. We call it "News in the Fast Lane." So buckle up.

Huge winter storm threatens holiday travel

  • Damage from possible tornado reported in Alabama
  • Airlines waiving change fees ahead of expected delays
A large winter storm could cause some holiday travel problems.

A winter storm that stretches from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico has spawned a possible tornado in Mobile, Alabama. 

Blizzard warnings popped up in parts of Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska and as far west as Colorado. But snow is only part of the problem. 

Further south, the warm side of the system has spun up severe weather warnings over a huge area of the Southeast. Wind advisories in more than half a dozen states, including all of Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee.

HLN affiliate WALA in Mobile, Alabama, is reporting windows blown out of several local businesses and the roof torn off another, possibly from a tornado that blew through early Thursday. Power lines and trees reportedly knocked down. WALA reports rescuers pulled one woman from her home after a tree collapsed on it.  So far though, two injuries have been reported.

Are you in the path of the storm? Upload pictures or video to iReport.

"This storm has a beautiful comma shape to it. That is an indication of a healthy storm," says HLN meteorologist Bob Van Dillen.  

Van Dillen predicts snow totals of up to 16 inches in the heart of the system, from Nebraska to Iowa and Wisconsin. That, combined with the severe weather to the south, equals bad news for people traveling for the Christmas holiday.

The (slightly) good news is, in major weather events like this, the major airlines will try to help and don't charge the usual change fees. So if you are traveling to any of the areas affected by this system and you can fly out a little early, it is probably a good idea to call and try to change your flight.

"Remember, they'll be getting a lot of calls and you may have to wait on hold awhile," said HLN personal finance anchor Jennifer Westhoven.

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