Sunday 11 December 2016

Death toll rises to eight in Texas storms

Press Association

Published 27/12/2015 | 13:39

Debris lies on the ground near a home that was heavily damaged by a tornado in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Debris lies on the ground near a home that was heavily damaged by a tornado in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Downed trees and power lines litter the area as neighbors check a damaged pickup looking for the driver after reports of a tornado in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. The driver was later located uninjured. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Debris lies on the ground near a home that was heavily damaged by a tornado in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

Tornadoes have swept through the Dallas area in Texas, leaving substantial damage and at least eight people dead, in the latest in a succession of freakish winter weather events across the US.

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The Texas tornadoes that touched down after dark on Saturday followed days of tumultuous weather in the south-east including unusual winter tornadoes that left 18 people dead there over the Christmas period.

Downed trees and power lines litter the area as neighbors check a damaged pickup looking for the driver after reports of a tornado in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. The driver was later located uninjured. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES
Downed trees and power lines litter the area as neighbors check a damaged pickup looking for the driver after reports of a tornado in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. The driver was later located uninjured. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES

National Weather Service Meteorologist Anthony Bain in Fort Worth said several tornadoes touched down in the Dallas area, although the full extent of damage was not yet known

The storms left homes had roofs blown away, vehicles mangled or turned upside down, churches damaged, power lines down, natural gas lines burst, trees toppled and debris strewn across neighbourhoods.

The damage stretched over a 40-mile-long area from the south of Dallas to north-east of the city.

Joe Harn, police spokesman for Garland, about 20 miles north-east of Dallas, said five people were killed in vehicle accidents during the massive storm, but it's unclear if all were in the same vehicle or how they died.

Richard Peraza, 14, sits in his front yard with his damaged guitar as he and others talk about the tornado damage in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Peraza said he was home with his father, George Peraza, when the storm hit and they jumped in the bathroom, according to The Dallas Morning News. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES
Richard Peraza, 14, sits in his front yard with his damaged guitar as he and others talk about the tornado damage in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Peraza said he was home with his father, George Peraza, when the storm hit and they jumped in the bathroom, according to The Dallas Morning News. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES

Three other people died in Collin County, about 45 miles north-east of Dallas, according to sheriff's deputy Chris Havey, although the circumstances were not immediately clear.

The Red Cross said it was setting up shelters for people whose homes were damaged by the storm.

"I think everyone understands now the gravity of what happened," Anita Foster, spokeswoman for American Red Cross of North Texas, said on WFAA television.

The twisters - accompanied by torrential rain, wind and some hail - were part of a weather system that could produce major flooding from north Texas through eastern Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, western Arkansas and parts of Missouri.

Debris lies on the ground near a home that was heavily damaged by a tornado in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES
Debris lies on the ground near a home that was heavily damaged by a tornado in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES

Passengers waiting for flights at Love Field, a major Dallas airport, were moved away from windows during the storm. Flights were temporarily halted from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The Dallas Mavericks NBA game was delayed about half an hour because of the storm.

On the other side of Texas, a snow storm accompanied by plunging temperatures, was expected to leave up to 16 inches of snow in west Texas and much of New Mexico through Sunday evening, according to NWS meteorologist Brendon Rubin-Oster in College Park, Maryland.

In the south-east, two more deaths linked to weather were reported on Saturday in Mississippi, bringing that state's death toll from severe weather over Christmas to 10. Late on Saturday, one death was reported in Alabama.

Flash flooding closed roads across Alabama and trapped motorists in rapidly rising waters.

Police car lights illuminate Debbie Spruell's heavily damaged car after a tornado hit in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Spurell was at home a few blocks away and not in the car at the time and was uninjured according to the The Dallas Morning News. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES
Police car lights illuminate Debbie Spruell's heavily damaged car after a tornado hit in Rowlett, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. Spurell was at home a few blocks away and not in the car at the time and was uninjured according to the The Dallas Morning News. Tornadoes swept through the Dallas area after dark on Saturday evening causing significant damage. (Guy Reynolds/The Dallas Morning News via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET USE BY AP MEMBERS ONLY; NO SALES

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said 56 injuries were reported. In a statement, Flynn said preliminary damage estimates show 241 homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

More than 400 homes in total were affected, he said. Severe storms are forecast for Sunday night through Monday as a strong cold front pushes through. Tornadoes are possible, and residents are asked to remain alert.

The flooding is the result of heavy downpours that have thrashed the southeastern US since Wednesday, bringing record rainfalls in some areas. Four inches of rain walloped the city of Mobile, Alabama, on Wednesday - smashing the previous record of 2.2 inches set in 1990.

Six people were killed in Tennessee, including three who were found in a car submerged in a creek, according to the Columbia Police Department. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said on Saturday that authorities were monitoring areas for possible flooding.

One person died in Arkansas, and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed.

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