UK & World News

  • 22 December 2013, 23:54

Deadly US Storm Cuts Power And Hits Flights

A deadly storm has been sweeping across the central and southern US, leaving thousands without power and forcing many flights to be cancelled or delayed.

Tornadoes and powerful winds, as well as ice and flooding, came as millions of people were preparing to head home by air and road for Christmas.

The "particularly strong storm" threatened to frustrate travellers from Texas to Nova Scotia as it affected a 2,000-mile area.

At least two people have been killed in the strong gusts, including a man whose mobile home overturned in northern Mississippi.

Another man died when his car hit a tree that fell across a road in the southeastern part of the state.

At the storm's height, more than 22,000 people lost power in northern Mississippi.

In Arkansas, at least five people were injured and two dozen homes were damaged after two apparent tornadoes struck.

In the northeast, ice and whipping winds battered parts of New York and Vermont as officials urged motorists to avoid travelling in dangerously slippy conditions.

More than 10,000 customers were without power in upstate New York as the storm was forecast to linger into Sunday afternoon.

About 5,000 flights have been hit nationwide with most of the disruption in and out of major hubs like Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Some 94.5 million Americans were planning to travel by road or air during the holiday season, which runs from Saturday until New Year's Day.

The system was a strange swirl of wintry and spring-like weather as it passed over areas in the Midwest, where there were freezing temperatures, and places like Memphis, where temperatures surpassed 70F (21C).

The National Weather Service said severe storms with damaging winds were possible on Sunday in northern Georgia, including Atlanta.

A flood watch for the region was in effect until Monday.

Weather service spokesman Ed Danaher told CBS News: "This is a particularly strong storm with very warm, near record-breaking temperatures in the East and very cold air in the Midwest.

"That contrast is the sort of conditions that are favourable for not only winter weather but also tornadoes."

Darren Hall, 45, of Raymore, Missouri., normally drives to St. Louis for the holiday.

But he decided not to risk it because of the freezing rain hitting the area and the promise of worse to come.

Instead, he waited for a train at Kansas City's Union Station.

He said: "You don't have to deal with all the roads. It's safer, less hassle."

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