US storm brings tornadoes, blizzard-like conditions; 2 dead

DALLAS (AP) — A destructive storm ripping across the U.S. spawned tornadoes that killed a young boy and his mother in Louisiana and threatened the South with more severe weather Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the huge storm system delivered blizzard-like conditions to the Great Plains and was expected to push more snow and ice into Appalachia and New England.

In northern Louisiana, the boy was found dead in a wooded area more than a half-mile from his home in the Keithville area, where a violent storm struck overnight just south of Shreveport, Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator said. The child’s mother was later found dead around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday one street over from her home, he said.

The child’s father reported them missing from their home, which the sheriff said was demolished in the storm.

“We couldn’t even find the house that he was describing with the address. Everything was gone,” Prator told Shreveport TV station KSLA.

In Farmerville, Louisiana, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) to the east of Keithville, about 20 people were taken to a hospital, some with critical injuries, after a tornado caused major damage to mobile homes and an apartment complex, the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office told Monroe TV station KNOE.

The forecast Wednesday called for more severe storms. Tornado warnings were issued Wednesday morning for parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, and portions of Alabama were under a tornado watch.

A line of thunderstorms sweeping through Texas spawned tornadoes Tuesday and damaged dozens of homes and businesses. At least five people were injured In the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, police spokesperson Amanda McNew said.

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

Icy weather from the huge storm was expected to affect the U.S. from coast to coast. It began by dumping heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada and was predicted to bring ice and snow to the eastern U.S. in the coming days.

“This system is notable for the fact that it’s going impact areas all the way from California to eventually the Northeast,” said Frank Pereira, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.

A widespread cold air outbreak was predicted to follow later this week, he said.

“Pretty much every area east of the Rockies will see below normal to well below normal temperatures,” he said.

Blizzard warnings stretched from Montana into western Nebraska and Colorado, 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. Winds of more than 50 mph (80 kph) at times would make it impossible to see outdoors in Nebraska, officials said.

“There’s essentially no one traveling right now,” Justin McCallum, a manager at the Flying J truck stop at Ogallala, Nebraska, said Tuesday.

Roads were covered with ice and snow across North Dakota, where authorities Tuesday evening closed Interstate 94 between Bismarck and Fargo because it became impassable, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

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. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch from Wednesday night through Friday afternoon, depending on the timing of the storm. Residents from West Virginia to Vermont were told to watch for a possible significant mix of snow, ice and sleet.

The winter blast shut down all roads in the northeast quadrant of Colorado. Jim Santomaso of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association said he was concerned that extreme winds could push livestock through fences and keep them wandering in the gale’s direction.

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

A blizzard warning was issued on Minnesota’s north shore as some areas were expecting up to 2 feet (61 centimeters) of snow and wind gusts up to 40 mph (64 kph). 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.

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Groves reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Associated Press writers Ken Miller in Oklahoma City; Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas; Julie Walker in New York; 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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