A sprawling winter storm is bearing down on the Northeast on Thursday, unleashing ice, snow and strong winds across the region after spawning dozens of tornadoes that claimed the lives of three people and left behind a trail of destruction in the South.
A woman was killed when a tornado destroyed her house west of New Orleans, while a mother and her son lost their lives when a twister ripped through a rural town in northwest Louisiana, state officials said.
The two tornados were part of a swarm of 33 twisters reported on Wednesday in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama, where they left destroyed or damaged homes and businesses, downed power lines, and piles of debris in their wake.
Video of tornado in Gretna earlier today courtesy Mark Verges @wdsu #lawx pic.twitter.com/om1stMvV5a
— Devon Lucie (@DevonWDSU) December 14, 2022
More than 20 people suffered injuries in Farmerville, Louisiana, when a tornado hit an apartment complex and a mobile home park, a police spokesperson told CNN.
The relentless storm was not finished on Thursday. It was threatening parts of the East Coast – from western North Carolina up through Pennsylvania and into New England – with up to 12 inches of snow and winds of more than 35 miles per hour, the National Weather Service said in its forecast.
Additionally, the storm was forecast to unleash freezing rains across the region, glazing roadways with ice and prompting transportation officials to urge motorists to stay off the roads.
The storm pounded the heart of the United States on Tuesday, bringing heavy snow and freezing rain to the Northern Plains and spawning thunderstorms and destructive tornadoes in the South.
“You are in a life-threatening situation. Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter. Mobile homes will be destroyed. Considerable damage to homes, businesses, and vehicles is likely and complete destruction is possible,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a warning issued at 3:45 p.m. central time to residents in central Texas.
The storm was blamed for the cancellation of more than 70 flights and the delay of nearly 800 others as of Tuesday afternoon, Flightaware.com reported on its Misery Map.
“This storm system will continue to produce numerous, widespread, and impactful weather hazards from the Rockies to the East Coast,” the service said in its forecast.
Blizzard-like conditions prompted school districts to cancel classes across the Dakotas, Colorado, and Nebraska. Some spots in the four-state area were expecting two feet of snow and winds of 60 miles per hour throughout the next two days, the NWS said.
Blowing snow and ice accumulation forced the closure of many highways and roadways, transportation officials said, urging residents to stay home.
“Be aware of rapidly changing conditions. Reduce speeds and drive according to the conditions,” the North Dakota Department of Transportation said on Twitter.
Temperatures dropped as low as minus 20 Fahrenheit in some areas, a level that causes frostbite on exposed skin within 30 minutes.
The wintry mix of precipitation could bring as much as 8 inches of snow to some areas of the Northeast today.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters. Additions and edits for FISM News by Michael Cardinal