Dauphin Street at North Carlen Street in Mobile, Ala., is impassable after a tornado touched down on Tuesday.(Photo: Mike Kittrell, AP)
At least three people were killed as tornadoes and severe weather
struck the southern U.S., as the bad weather migrated toward the
Northeast and threatened to cause further disruptions on one of the
heaviest travel days of the year.
More than 600 flights nationwide
were canceled and more than 5,000 delayed on Tuesday, according to the
flight tracker FlightStats.com. Many were out of the Dallas-Fort Worth
As of shortly after 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, 372 flights had been cancelled and 311 delayed across the U.S.
holiday travelers in the nation's much colder midsection battled
treacherous driving conditions from freezing rain and blizzard
conditions from a line of fast-moving storms that the National Weather
Service Wednesday said were continuing to march eastward.
The storms were blamed for three deaths, and a Christmas Day twister outbreak left damage across the Deep South.
More than 100,000 customers were without power in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
Mobile, Ala., a tornado or high winds damaged homes, a high school and a
church, and knocked down power lines and large tree limbs in an area
just west of downtown.
Rick Cauley, his wife, Ashley, and two
children were hosting members of both of their families. When the sirens
went off, the family headed down the block to take shelter at the
athletic field house at Mobile's Murphy High School.
would have it, that's where the tornado hit," Cauley said. "The pressure
dropped and the ears started popping and it got crazy for a second."
winds toppled a tree onto a pickup truck in the Houston area, killing
the driver, and a 53-year-old north Louisiana man was killed when a tree
fell on his house. Icy roads already were blamed for a 21-vehicle
pileup in Oklahoma, and the Highway Patrol there said a 28-year-old
woman was killed in a crash on a snowy U.S. Highway near Fairview.
least three tornadoes were reported in Texas, though only one building
was damaged, according to the National Weather Service. Tornado watches
were in effect across southern Louisiana and Mississippi.
fell on a few houses in central Louisiana's Rapides Parish but there
were no injuries reported, said sheriff's Lt. Tommy Carnline. Near
McNeill, Mississippi, a likely tornado damaged a dozen homes and sent
eight people to the hospital, none with life-threatening injuries, said
Pearl River County emergency management agency director Danny Manley.
Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency in the state, saying
eight counties have reported damage and some injuries.
conditions were possible for parts of Illinois, Indiana and western
Kentucky with predictions of 4 to 7 inches (10 to 17.5 centimeters) of
And the National Weather Service has winter storm and blizzard warnings in effect from Oklahoma and Texas all the way to Maine.
AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Henry Margusity said that as the
powerful winter storms shifted east, the threat of tornadoes likely
The holiday may conjure visions of snow and ice, but twisters this
time of year are not unheard of. Ten storm systems in the last 50 years
have spawned at least one Christmastime tornado with winds of 113 mph
(182 kph) or more in the South, said Chris Vaccaro, a National Weather
Service spokesman in Washington, via email.
The most lethal were
the storms of Dec. 24-26, 1982, when 29 tornadoes in Oklahoma, Missouri,
Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi killed three people and injured 32.
was the biggest city hit by a twister on Tuesday. The storms knocked
down countless trees, blew the roofs off homes and left many Christmas
celebrations in the dark.