A massive cross-country storm spawns damaging tornadoes in the South, where a child has died, and punishing blizzards in Colorado and the Plains that have resulted in closed highways and grunting travel.
The storm system moving east across the country — currently persistent over the central U.S. — is bringing severe weather across the country, with at least five confirmed tornadoes in Texas and several others reported. The storms left a path of destruction in Oklahoma and the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Tuesday, flattening homes and injuring at least seven people.
In Louisiana, a child who went missing after a tornado crashed into Keithville on Tuesday has been found dead, and the search for the boy’s mother continues, the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
“A young boy was found dead in a wooded area of Pecan Farms where his home was destroyed,” the sheriff’s office said.
About 100 miles away, in the small Union Parish town of Farmerville, Louisiana, at least 20 people were injured after a tornado hit Tuesday night, according to Farmerville Police Detective Cade Nolan.
“It’s the worst damage I’ve seen in 17 years,” Nolan told CNN, describing how mobile homes were lifted off their axles and frames and, in some cases, transported a quarter of a mile away.
First responders were still looking for people in the early morning hours Wednesday, Nolan said, adding that several people were injured while traveling in cars.
Meanwhile almost 10 million people – largely in the northern and central US – are affected by winter weather warnings or advisories, with blowing snow and power outages a major concern. Another 6 million people in the Northeast will be under winter storm watch Wednesday.
As the storm continues its trek east, here’s what different regions can expect:
- Tornadoes and damaging winds are possible Wednesday over parts of southern Louisiana, southern and central Mississippi, southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.
- There is an increased risk of severe thunderstorms and a risk of excessive rainfall over the Lower Mississippi Valley and Central Gulf Coast through Thursday.
- Heavy snow, rain and freezing rain are expected in the Upper Midwest on Wednesday
- Freezing rain and sleet are expected to persist across the plains and then shift into the Upper Midwest through Wednesday, making travel dangerous.
The storm over the Central Plains is expected to move northeast into the Upper Great Lakes, while a sister storm develops over parts of the Mid-Atlantic by Thursday, according to the Weather Prediction Center. Several days of heavy snow, high winds and freezing rain will bring extreme weather across the northern and central US through Thursday evening.
More than 3 million people in parts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas were under tornado watch early Wednesday. The main threats are still possible tornadoes, hail and wind gusts up to 75 mph.
There have been multiple tornado and hail reports since Tuesday.
Videos showed downed power lines and destroyed homes in Decatur and Blue Ridge, Texas, as well as Wayne, Oklahoma, after the storm produced severe weather.
Just outside of Dallas, at least five people were injured by storms, Grapevine police said. Businesses including a Grapevine mall, a Sam’s Club and a Walmart were damaged, police said.
In Wise County, northwest of Fort Worth, two more people were injured Tuesday morning and homes and businesses were damaged. One person was injured when the wind overturned his vehicle, and the other – also in a vehicle – was injured by flying debris, officials said.
In Wayne, Oklahoma, a confirmed EF2 tornado knocked out power and damaged homes, outbuildings and sheds, officials said, though no injuries were reported.
In Farmerville, Louisiana, Tiyia Stringfellow told CNN she was in her apartment when a tornado hit. She was with her boyfriend and two young children, and they all survived without injury, she said.
“We were in the kitchen cupboard,” Stringfellow said. “All we heard was a whistle and my friend got up to look out the window and he (saw) the tornado, the whole house was shaking and I (saw) my roof collapsed and the house went dark.”
As of Wednesday, parts of southern Louisiana, southern and central Mississippi, southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle continue to face an increased threat of severe weather.
Cities like New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama could see a few strong tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail.
The storm may also bring isolated tornadoes, hail and damaging winds to the area from the Texas-Louisiana border to the Florida Panhandle north to central Mississippi, Alabama and western Georgia.
By Thursday, the threat will weaken to a slight risk of severe weather as the storm moves toward the east coast.
Snowstorms in the Northern and Central High Plains are expected to make travel dangerous on snowy roads amid snow speeds of 1-2 inches per hour and wind gusts of 50-60 mph, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
The “once-in-a-five-year storm” made its way through parts of Nebraska on Tuesday and is expected to linger in the area through the end of the week, NWS metrologist Bill Taylor said.
Blizzard warnings are in effect in parts of the state, and the state’s Department of Transportation said several roads are closed, including all roads from Nebraska to Colorado.
Residents will contend with near-zero visibility making travel difficult, as well as possible scattered power outages.
In South Dakota, schools in the Rapid City area are closed Tuesday and will remain closed Wednesday due to snow conditions in the area, the school district said on Facebook.
Winter weather conditions closed both eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 90 from Rapid City to the Wyoming State Line on Tuesday, state transportation officials said.
Heavy snow and wind gusts are likely to spread across the Northern Plains and into the Upper Midwest on Wednesday and Thursday, the Storm Prediction Center said.
Freezing rain and sleet are expected to persist across the plains and then shift into the Upper Midwest through Wednesday, making travel dangerous once again.
“Strong winds and cold temperatures will continue even after this storm passes, bringing bitterly cold chills,” the National Weather Service said.
As the second storm develops over the southern Appalachian Mountains and moves into the Mid-Atlantic on Thursday, residents can expect heavy snow over parts of the Lower Great Lakes, Central Appalachian Mountains and the northern Mid-Atlantic.