More than 30 million Americans in the country’s northern tier were under winter weather advisories or warnings on Wednesday, while the tornado swept south as a hurricane. deadly winter storm continued its destructive march across the country, killing at least three people.
A line of tornadoes and severe storms that moved through Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida were blamed for at least three deaths and dozens of injuries. Blizzard conditions forced the closure of several interstates and other roads in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
“A powerful system continues to produce areas with heavy snow, blizzard conditions and chilly mixing across the north and central plains,” the National Weather Service said in an ominous warning Tuesday night. “Severe storms with all hazards, including intense tornadoes, and heavy to extreme rainfall that could cause flooding across the deep and central South can be expected.”
The storm won’t end there, instead continuing to the northeast, where AccuWeather forecasts the most widespread snow across the region so far this season. A dangerous snow storm will come with rain, wind and possibly flooding.
Tornadoes in Louisiana, Mississippi
In Louisiana, New Iberia police said Wednesday that a tornado had touched down, damaging several homes and trapping people.
Police Captain Leland Lassiter said, “Rescue efforts are ongoing. We request all citizens to please stay away from the area.” “We have power lines that are down and live in streets and yards.”
Elsewhere in Louisiana, the body of 8-year-old Nicholas Little was found 10 miles south of Shreveport after a tornado destroyed his Keithville home, the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday. A few hours later, the body of his mother, Yoshiko Smith, 30, was found a block away under the debris of the tornado. An adult male was hospitalized, the sheriff’s office said in a facebook post,
Another person was killed in St. Charles Parish, causing extensive damage and at least seven others were injured in a possible tornado in the Kelowna area, according to parish spokeswoman Samantha De Castro. Parish President Matthew Jewell declared a state of emergency, downed power lines and blocked roads in the area.
In Farmerville, Louisiana, the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office told KNOE-TV that about 25 people were injured, some seriously, after a tornado leveled a neighborhood. Tia Stringfellow, her boyfriend and two young children were in their Farmerville apartment when the tornado struck.
“We were in the kitchen closet. We heard whistling and my boyfriend got up to look out the window and he saw the tornado.” CNN, “The whole house was shaking and I[saw]my ceiling fall and the house went dark.”
The National Weather Service office in Jackson warned that in Mississippi, a line of severe storms was producing tornadoes on Wednesday.
“A definite, large and extremely dangerous tornado was located near Forest, moving northeast at 35 mph,” the office said in one of several warning statements. “This is a particularly dangerous situation. Take cover now!”
Police in Hattiesburg, Mississippi posted photos of flooded streets in part of an area under a flash flood warning by the National Weather Service.
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Several injured as tornado hits Texas
In Texas, the weather service in Fort Worth said Wednesday that there were eight confirmed tornadoes in Tuesday’s storms and about four more were likely to be confirmed. The office said one of the tornadoes, an EF-2 rated one, tore through Wise County on Tuesday morning with sustained winds of 125 miles per hour.
In Grapevine, 20 miles northwest of Dallas, at least five people were injured, and a Sam’s Club, a Walmart and the Grapevine Mills mall were damaged, police said. At least two people were reported injured in Decatur, about 70 miles northwest of Dallas, one caused by winds that overturned a vehicle and another from flying debris.
“The risk of flash flooding and severe weather remains for the south Wednesday,” said Weather Service meteorologist Brian Putnam.
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Heavy snow in the north, snow for parts of the Northeast
Putnam said the northern high plains, where snow began falling Tuesday, could end up with up to 30 inches by Thursday. He said strong, gusty winds gusting to 45 to 55 mph will continue to create icy conditions and have a “significant” impact on travel. He said long stretches of most roads are expected to remain closed in the region, including parts of major Interstates I-80, I-90 and I-94.
As the week comes to an end, the Northeast will get colder, with chances of snow accumulation and rain. The forecast called for up to a quarter of an inch of freezing rain in parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The snow threat deepens further north into New York, with 4 to 8 inches locally higher in the mountains. The weather service said the snowfall will continue and move north into New England through Friday.
Closer to the coast, freezing rain, sleet and snow mixed with sleet could make for a difficult Thursday morning along the I-95 corridor, according to forecasters.
Contributing: Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY