Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat

Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
A greenhouse sits on a fence in the backyard of Randy Popiel's home after a possible tornado in Grapevine, Texas, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. Credit: Elías Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News via AP

A massive storm blowing across the country Tuesday spawned several tornadoes that wrecked buildings and injured a handful of people in Oklahoma and Texas, left two people missing in Louisiana and saw much of the central United States bracing for blizzard-like conditions.

Sherriff's deputies, firefighters, volunteers and dog teams were searching the debris after a tornado touched down about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Shreveport, Louisiana, the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office said. Two people were missing, one was hurt and several buildings were destroyed, Sgt. Casey Jones said.

"I think we're focused on searching for people. There's no rain. The is gone," he said a few hours after the tornado swept through Four Forts.

"I'm hoping they're with family somewhere," Jones said. There were no immediate reports of deaths.

Far to the northwest, an area stretching from Montana into western Nebraska and Colorado was under blizzard warnings, and the National Weather Service said as much as 2 feet (61 centimeters) of snow was possible in some areas of western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska. Ice and sleet were expected in the eastern Great Plains.

Forecasters expect the storm system to hobble the upper Midwest with ice, rain and snow for days, as well as move into the Northeast and central Appalachians. Residents from West Virginia to Vermont were told to watch out for a possible significant mix of snow, ice and sleet, and the National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch from Wednesday night through Friday afternoon, depending on the timing of the storm.

Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
Wrightwood residents Nick and Christine Hoban enjoy a walk together as heavy snow falls on Highway 2 near Wrightwood, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022. Credit: Will Lester/The Orange County Register via AP

The severe weather threat also continues into Wednesday for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

In the South, a line of thunderstorms brought tornadoes, damaging winds, hail and heavy rain across North Texas and Oklahoma in the early morning hours, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Bradshaw. Authorities on Tuesday reported dozens of damaged homes and businesses and several people injured in the suburbs and counties stretching north of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The weather service examined about a dozen different areas across North Texas to determine if Tuesday's damage was caused by or tornadoes.

A tornado warning prompted the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to issue a "shelter in place" order Tuesday morning, asking passengers to move away from windows, the airport announced via Twitter.

Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
Belinda Penner, center, watches as Jr. Ibarra, left, and Jared Reaves, right, carry a beam from her cousin's tornado destroyed home, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Wayne, Okla. Credit: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

More than 1,000 flights into and out of area airports were delayed, and over 100 were canceled, according to the tracking service FlightAware.

In the Fort Worth suburbs, about 20 local homes and businesses were damaged, according to the North Richland Hills police department.

In nearby Grapevine, police spokesperson Amanda McNew reported five confirmed injuries.

"The main thing is that we've got everyone in a safe place," McNew said just after noon. "We're starting the process of going through the city looking at damage to property, to businesses, homes and then roads."

A possible tornado blew the roof off the city's service center—a municipal facility—and left pieces of the roof hanging from powerlines, said Trent Kelley, deputy director of Grapevine Parks and Recreation. Tuesday was also trash day, so the storm picked up and scattered garbage all over, he said.

Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
A structure is damaged after a tornado touched down in Wayne, Okla., early Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. Millions of people in the central United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest are bracing for blizzard-like conditions from a massive storm blowing across the country. States farther to the south, including Texas and Oklahoma, saw tornadoes early Tuesday, with some damage reported in Oklahoma. Credit: KOCO via AP

Photos sent by the city showed downed power lines on rain-soaked streets, as well as toppled trees, damaged buildings and a semitrailer that appeared to have been tossed around a parking lot.

Meanwhile, a tornado damaged the Oklahoma town of Wayne shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday. There was widespread damage but no deaths or injuries, McClain County Sheriff's Capt. Bryan Murrell said.

"We've got multiple family structures with significant damage ... barns, down," Murrell said. The town is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Oklahoma City.

National Weather Service meteorologist Doug Speheger said reached 111-135 mph (179-211 kph) and the tornado was rated EF-2. It was likely on the ground for about two to four minutes, according to the weather service.

In parts of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, the National Weather Service warned that up to about half an inch (2.5 centimeters) of ice could form and winds could gust up to 45 mph (72 kph). Power outages, tree damage, falling branches and hazardous travel conditions threatened the region.

Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
A road closed sign hangs on a shuttered gate to prevent traffic from entering the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 at East Airpark Road Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Aurora, Colo. A massive winter storm has closed roads throughout northeast Colorado. Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

All of western Nebraska was under a blizzard warning from Tuesday through Thursday, and the National Weather Service said up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow was expected in the northwest. Winds of more than 50 mph (80 kph) at times will make it impossible to see outdoors, officials said.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation closed stretches of Interstate 80 and Interstate 76 as heavy snow and high winds made travel dangerous. The Nebraska State Patrol, which was called to deal with several crashes and jackknifed semitrailers overnight, urged people to stay off the roads.

"There's essentially no one traveling right now," said Justin McCallum, a manager at the Flying J truck stop at Ogallala, Nebraska.

In Colorado, all roads were closed in the northeast quadrant of the state. The severe weather in the ranching region could also threaten livestock. Extreme winds can push livestock through fences as they follow the gale's direction, said Jim Santomaso, a northeast representative for the Colorado Cattlemen's Association.

Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
Rain from a winter storm creates icy conditions on Tuesday, Dec.13, 2022, in Sioux Falls, SD. A massive storm blowing across the country spawned tornadoes in parts of Oklahoma and Texas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as much of the central United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest braced Tuesday for blizzard-like conditions. Credit: Erin Woodiel /The Argus Leader via AP

"If this keeps up," said Santomaso, "cattle could drift miles."

In western South Dakota, a 260-mile (418-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 90 was closed Tuesday morning due to "freezing rain, heavy snow, and high winds," the state's Department of Transportation said. Interstate 29 was also expected to close and secondary highways will likely become "impassable," the department said.

Xcel Energy, one of the region's largest electric providers, had boosted staff in anticipation of power outages.

A blizzard warning has been issued on Minnesota's north shore, as some areas are expecting up to 24 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 40 mph. And in the south of the state, winds gusting up to 50 mph (80 kph) had reduced visibility.

National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Dye in the Twin Cities said this is a "long duration event" with snow, ice and rain through Friday night. Minnesota was expecting a lull Wednesday, followed by a second round of snow.

  • Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
    A surfer heads to the water as storms move through the area in San Clemente, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022. Credit: Paul Bersebach/The Orange County Register via AP
  • Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
    This photo provided by the Utah Department of Public Safety shows an overturned a Salt Lake express bus that had passengers when it overturned along eastbound on I-84 approximately 5 to 7 miles west of Tremonton, Utah, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022. The tour bus heading from Boise, Idaho to Salt Lake City, Utah crashed Monday morning, flipping onto its side and injuring dozens of passengers. Utah Highway Patrol said the majority of passengers aboard a Salt Lake Express bus sustained minor injuries from the crash. Credit: Utah Highway Patrol/Utah Department of Public Safety via AP
  • Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
    Damian Reinhold surveys damage to trees brought down by a tornado outside his friend's home, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Wayne, Okla. Credit: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
  • Massive US storm brings tornadoes to South, blizzard threat
    Sal Wood, Blake Wood and Jacobi Wood, 6, roll the largest snowball at Camel's Back Park in Boise, Idaho, on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, after 2.5 inches of snow fell overnight according to the National Weather Service. No more snow is in the forecast for the Boise area this week, but temperatures are expected to drop to as low as 6 degrees by Saturday night. Credit: Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman via AP

Wet roadways are just as dangerous when temperatures hover around freezing, Dye said.

The same weather system dumped heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada and western U.S. in recent days.

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