aTornadoes that swept across the country in parts of Oklahoma and Much of the central United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is bracing for blizzard-like conditions on Tuesday.
An area stretching from Montana to western Nebraska and Colorado was under a blizzard warning, and the National Weather Service (NWS) said up to 2 feet of snow was possible in some areas of western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska. Snow and hail were expected across the Eastern Great Plains.
According to tracking service FlightAware, more than 10,000 flights across the country have been delayed or canceled since Monday.
Forecasters said the storm system was expected to bring snow, rain and ice to the upper Midwest as well as snow and sleet to the Northeast and central Appalachians by late Wednesday. The threat of severe weather remains in place for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle through Wednesday, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
To the south, a line of thunderstorms brought tornadoes, damaging winds, hail and heavy rain through the early morning across northern Texas and Oklahoma, NWS meteorologist Tom Bradshaw said. Officials on Tuesday reported dozens of damaged homes and businesses and several injuries in the suburbs and county spread north of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
At least nine tornadoes have touched down in Oklahoma and Texas. The weather service was investigating about a dozen different areas across northern Texas on Tuesday to determine whether the damage was caused by strong winds or a tornado.
In the Fort Worth suburbs, photos sent by the North Richland Hills Police Department showed a house without a roof, a tree split in half and an overturned vehicle in a parking lot. Police said about 20 local homes and businesses were damaged. Photos shared by local authorities showed a house without a roof, a tree that had been split in half and an overturned vehicle in a parking lot.
In nearby Grapevine, police spokeswoman Amanda McNew confirmed five injuries, but no deaths and no life-threatening injuries.
“The main thing is that we got everyone to a safe place,” McNew said just after noon local time. “And so now we’re starting the process of going through the city to look at the property damage, the businesses, the homes and then the streets to see what needs to be closed, what we can open and by how much.” Soon we can open them.”
Feather TwitterThe Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District said students were being taken to a local church after the tornado caused roof damage and water leaks. The smell of natural gas was also detected near a school in the district. Several schools in the area lost power and two elementary schools released students early because they were still without power at noon.
Tornado warnings prompted Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport near Grapevine to issue a “shelter in place” order Tuesday morning, asking passengers to move away from windows, the airport announced via Twitter. According to FlightAware, more than 1,000 flights into and out of the region’s airports were delayed and more than 100 were canceled.
Troy Hudson, emergency management coordinator in Fannin County, said downed power lines also closed parts of US 69.
Wise County’s Office of Emergency Management said there were several reports of damage to homes and businesses near Decatur, about 70 miles northwest of Dallas. The Office of Emergency Management said one person was injured by flying debris while traveling in their vehicle and another was injured when their vehicle overturned due to strong winds. One person was taken to the hospital and another was treated at the scene.
Bradshaw said it is believed to be a tornado that caused damage south of Decatur. A woman whose Decatur-area home was damaged in the storm,
“I was in the restroom and then I heard a big old gust of wind, and just complete silence, then all of a sudden the house was shaking, the power went out. I was holding on to the bar in the restroom… I just heard all the windows shatter.” And I was just hoping they were okay,” said the woman, who was not identified, and was at home with her mother and two children when the tornado struck.
Video footage shot by the station showed damaged houses and tree limbs strewn on the ground.
Meanwhile, a tornado damaged the Oklahoma city of Wayne shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday. No deaths or injuries were reported as a result of the tornado, said McClellan County Sheriff’s Capt. Brian Murrell. But officials said Wayne caused widespread damage about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Oklahoma City.
Murrell said, “We’ve got multiple family structures that have significant damage… barns, power lines are down.”
National Weather Service meteorologist Doug Spiehager said wind speeds reached 111-135 mph and the tornado was rated EF-2. According to the weather service, it was expected to stay on the ground for about two to four minutes.
In parts of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, the National Weather Service warned that up to half an inch of snow could form and winds could gust up to 45 miles per hour. Power outages, tree damage, downed branches and dangerous travel conditions plagued the area.
Blizzard warnings were in place throughout western Nebraska Tuesday through Thursday, and the National Weather Service said up to 20 inches of snow is expected in the northwest. Officials said winds of more than 50 miles per hour at times would make it impossible to see outside.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation closed parts of Interstate 80 and Interstate 76 because heavy snow and high winds made travel dangerous. The Nebraska State Patrol, which was called out to deal with multiple crashes and jackknife semitrailers overnight, urged people to stay off the roads.
“Essentially no one is traveling right now,” said Justin McCallum, manager of the Flying J truck stop in Ogallala, Nebraska.
In Colorado, all roads were closed in the northeastern quadrant of the state. Livestock can also be at risk from severe weather in the animal husbandry sector. Jim Santomaso, a northeast representative for the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, said extreme winds could push livestock through fences, as they follow the direction of the gale.
“If this continues,” Santomaso said, “cattle could be driven miles away.”
In western South Dakota, a 260-mile stretch of Interstate 90 was closed Tuesday morning due to “freezing rain, heavy snow and high winds,” the state Department of Transportation said. The department said that Interstate 29 was also expected to be closed and secondary highways would be “impassable”.
Xcel Energy, one of the area’s largest power providers, had increased staffing in anticipation of power outages.
Blizzard warnings have been issued for the North Shore of Minnesota, as up to 24 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 40 mph are expected in some areas. And in the state’s south, winds gusting up to 50 mph reduced visibility.
Melissa Dye, NWS meteorologist in the Twin Cities, said it is a “long-term event” with snow, ice and rain expected to last at least through Friday night. A lull was expected in Minnesota on Wednesday, followed by more snow again.
Dye said wet roads are just as dangerous when temperatures hover around freezing.
The weather is part of the same system that has brought heavy snow to the Sierra Nevada and western US in recent days.