Death toll rises to eight in Texas storms
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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