At least 12 dead after winter storm slams South, Midwest
Cleanup began in battered parts of the South and Midwest after a sprawling storm system produced ferocious winds and heavy snow that caused widespread damage and caused at least 12 deaths before racing through the Northeast on Saturday.
Three people were killed by falling trees in Alabama as severe weather swept through the state. In Mississippi, a woman died inside her SUV after a rotted tree branch struck her vehicle, and in Arkansas, a man drowned after he drove into high floodwaters. Two weather-related deaths were also reported in Tennessee, including a vehicle passenger who died near the western Tennessee town of Waverly, the Humphreys County Sheriff's Office reports.
Five weather-related deaths also were reported in Kentucky in four different counties as storms with straight-line winds moved through the state. Gov. Andy Beshear had declared a state of emergency before the storm and on Friday evening the mayor of Louisville, Craig Greenberg, followed suit because of the severe storms, high winds, widespread damage and danger to lives and property.
More than 466,000 utility customers in Kentucky and Michigan were without power as of Saturday night, according to the utility tracking website PowerOutage.us. More than 276,000 of those customers were in Kentucky, and the governor warned it would take days for utility crews to fully restore service.
Kentucky's electric cooperatives reported hundreds of snapped utility poles and thousands of power lines down across the Bluegrass State. Soft ground from heavy rains slowed the progress of heavy equipment to access damaged infrastructure.
More than a foot of snow fell in parts of New York state, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine before the late-winter storm started to ebb late in the day. Driving conditions were hazardous, as dozens of cars, trucks and tractor-trailers slid off roads, police said. In New York's capital region of Albany, crews worked to restore power to nearly 20,000 customers as heavy, damp snow snapped tree branches.
In the upper Midwest, winter-weary residents dug out Saturday from snowfall that caused widespread power outages and forced Detroit's Metropolitan Wayne County Airport to briefly close late Friday. Thousands of residents in the region already had lost power for days following recent ice storms that slammed Michigan.
Victoria Burnett felt a sense of foreboding as the snow began falling Friday in Farmington Hills, northwest of Detroit. Burnett lost power for seven days following the first ice storm. She was able to use a generator until her service returned.
"When it started snowing (Friday) and I saw it was heavy, wet snow, I was really worried," Burnett said. Her lights flickered, but the power remained on.
The National Weather Service reported poor road conditions and numerous vehicle crashes across much of northwest Indiana because of heavy snowfall Friday afternoon.
In California, where the weather system slammed the state earlier in the week with as much as 10 feet of snow. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared states of emergency in 13 counties including San Bernardino County east of Los Angeles, where the massive snowfall has closed roads, caused power outages, collapsed roofs and trapped residents in their homes for days.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department reported that 20 stranded residents in mountain communities were rescued Friday night. More than 500 personnel were working Saturday on snow removal and emergency response efforts, the sheriff's office said.
Authorities have been working to clear roads and distribute food, water and blankets.
There was a slight chance of snow showers in the region on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service in San Diego.
In Texas, winds brought down trees, ripped the roof off a grocery store in Little Elm, north of Dallas, and overturned four 18-wheelers along. Minor injuries were reported, police said.
Winds of nearly 80 mph were recorded near the Fort Worth suburb of Blue Mound. The roof of an apartment building in the suburb of Hurst was blown away, resident Michael Roberts told KDFW-TV.
"The whole building started shaking...The whole ceiling is gone," Roberts said. "It got really crazy."
Heavy rain was also reported in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, causing flooding in both states.
In southwest Arkansas, Betty Andrews told KSLA-TV that she and her husband took shelter in the bathroom of their mobile home while a tornado moved through.
"It was very scary. I opened the front door to look out and saw it coming. I grabbed Kevin and went and got into the bathtub," Andrews said. "We hunkered down, and I said some prayers until it passed."
They were OK but the home sustained major damage and the couple was temporarily trapped in the bathroom until a neighbor cleared debris from outside the door.
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