Strong storms, some deadly, lash wide swaths from coast to coast

People walk against heavy wind in downtown Manhattan on Jan. 23, 2017 as nor’easter moved up coast

AP

Last Updated Jan 24, 2017 6:26 AM EST

From California to the Northeast to the Deep South, millions of Americans were contending with destruction and, in some cases, death from damaging January weather early Tuesday.

Flooding, high winds and suspected tornadoes have rousted people from their homes. A deadly storm system tore across the Deep South, a nor’easter hit the East Coast and rainfall records fell in California.

Millions of people from the mid-Atlantic through New England were being advised to hunker down as a nor’easter moved up the coast.

High wind warnings and advisories were in effect throughout the region. Some wind gusts were expected to approach 60 mph, while offshore winds as strong as hurricane levels of 74 mph or higher were forecast.

Flooding and beach erosion was expected into Tuesday. Downed power lines were also a problem.

Officials in New Jersey were assessing damage a day after the nor’easter hit the New Jersey shore.  A coastal flood watch was iln effect Tuesday morning, but the heavy rain and strong winds were gone. Forecasters predicted areas of moderate flooding during high tide earlier in the morning. 

CBS New York reports powerful winds ripped down trees and power lines, damaged buildings and cars and cut power to some residents and businesses Monday.

In Philadelphia, police say a man was killed when he was struck at a car lot by a sign knocked off a wall, and panels from a multistory mural blew off another wall and hit two parked cars.

In New Jersey, strong winds blew part of the roof off an oceanfront condo building in Long Branch. Debris fell onto several parked cars below.

In upstate New York and into northern New England, forecasts were calling for as much as six inches of snow and sleet.

California finally got a break Monday from a three-day winter storm that broke rainfall records, washed out roads and churned up tremendous waves. Sunshine and rainbows alternated with thunderclaps, downpours, snow and hail as the last of the storm system broke up.

Nonetheless, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for 50 California counties that were drenched by December and January storms that caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.

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Front-loader clears mud and debris from street during heavy January 23, 2017 rain in Santa Clarita, California

CBS Los Angeles

The two proclamations are designed to provide state assistance to local governments coping with flooding, mudslides and erosion and to help obtain federal emergency funding to fix damaged roads and highways. Brown’s proclamations said the damage has created “conditions of extreme peril” to people and property.

Authorities reported at least four people dead and several missing. Hail was reported northwest of Los Angeles, nearly 4 inches of rain fell south of the city and wind gusts topped 60 mph in some areas.

Further north, an avalanche shut down a highway in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and nearly 3 feet of snow fell on ski resorts. Avalanche warnings were issued for northern Utah. Forecasters predicted up to a foot of snow and winds gusting to near 50 mph.

The wet winter weather follows years of drought.

A powerful storm system that tore across the Deep South over the weekend killed at least 20 people, including 15 in south Georgia. Rescuers were going through stricken areas, searching for possible survivors.

Patrick Marsh, of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said 39 possible tornadoes were reported across the Southeast from early Saturday into Sunday evening.

Marsh said while the risk of tornadoes is strongest in the spring in the central U.S., it “never really goes to zero” for most of the year in the Southeast.

Data from the Storm Prediction Center shows that, over the past decade, the nation has seen an average of 38 tornadoes in January, ranging from a high of 84 in 2008 to just four in 2014.