US winter storm brings warnings of more tornadoes, blizzards

DALLAS (AP) — A destructive winter storm tore across the United States Wednesday, bringing blizzard-like conditions to the Great Plains just hours after tornadoes touched down in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Five tornadoes have been confirmed in north Texas as of Tuesday afternoon based on video and eyewitness reports, but potentially a dozen may have occurred, the National Weather Service of Fort Worth, Texas said.

Dozens of homes and businesses were damaged by the storm line and several people were injured in the northern suburbs and counties of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. More than 1,000 flights into and out of area airports have been delayed and more than 100 have been cancelled, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Two people were missing and homes were destroyed on Tuesday when a tornado hit Four Forts, Louisiana, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Shreveport, Sgt. Casey Jones of the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“I hope they are with family somewhere,” Jones said. There were no immediate reports of deaths.

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

Blizzard warnings extended from Montana to western Nebraska and Colorado, and the National Weather Service said up to 24 inches of snow was possible in some areas of western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska. Winds of more than 50 mph (80 km/h) will sometimes make it impossible to see outdoors in Nebraska, officials said.

“There’s basically nobody traveling right now,” said Justin McCallum, a manager at the Flying J truck stop in Ogallala, Nebraska.

Forecasters expect the storm system to limp the upper Midwest with ice, rain and snow for days, as well as move into northeastern and central Appalachia. Residents from West Virginia to Vermont have been told to watch out for a possible significant mix of snow, ice and sleet, and the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning Wednesday evening through Friday afternoon, depending on the time of the storm. .

In the Dallas suburb of Grapevine on Tuesday, police spokeswoman Amanda McNew reported five confirmed injuries.

A possible tornado blew the roof off the city’s service center — a municipal facility — and left pieces of the roof hanging from power lines, said Trent Kelley, deputy director of Grapevine Parks and Recreation.

It was also garbage day, so the storm picked up and scattered trash all over the place, she said.

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

In Colorado, all roads have been closed in the northeast quadrant of the state. Bad weather in the ranching region could also threaten the livestock. Extreme winds can push cattle through fences as they track the direction of the storm, said Jim Santomaso, a Northeast representative for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

“If this continues,” Santomaso said, “livestock could drift for miles.”

A blizzard warning has been issued on the north coast of Minnesota 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 gusty up to 50 mph (80 km/h) reduced visibility.

National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Dye in the Twin Cities said it was a “long-lasting event” with snow, ice and rain through Friday night. Minnesota expected a break Wednesday, followed by a second round of snow.

The same weather system has dumped heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada and western US for the past few days.

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Thickets reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Associated Press writers Ken Miller in Oklahoma City; Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas; Sam Metz in Salt Lake City; Trisha Ahmed in Minneapolis; Jesse Bedayn in Denver; Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska; and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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