More than 40 people were killed by tornadoes and floods in the
United States during the holiday season, where rare winter tornado
warnings were issued in Alabama on Monday.
Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle were expected to bear
the brunt of the of the day's strongest storms, AccuWeather senior
meteorologist Michael Leseney said.
About 2,900 flights had been canceled at U.S. airports by 11 p.m.
EST on Monday, according to FlightAware.com, while another 4,800
delays were reported.
Chicago-area airports were worst hit with hundreds of flights
canceled as the city was swept by sleet and hail and United Airlines
granted exemptions from fees for some travelers impacted by the
More than a foot (30 cm) of snow was forecast for southwestern
Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota, and snow was also falling in
Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.
A flash flood warning was in effect in eastern Missouri and Southern
Illinois, the National Weather Service said. Thirteen people died in
flash floods in those two states during the weekend, including four
international soldiers training at a military base in Missouri, the
The storms came as other countries struggled with extreme weather
and stressed holiday infrastructure.
In Britain, hundreds of troops were deployed and a government agency
said a "complete rethink" of flood defenses was needed after swathes
of northern England were inundated by rivers that burst their banks.
Severe weather also hit parts of Australia, where more than 100
homes were lost in Christmas Day brushfires.
Then on Sunday a freight train carrying sulphuric acid derailed in
the Outback, and a Queensland Rail spokeswoman told local media that
floods had stopped crews reaching the scene. (video:
LIVES AND HOMES LOST
The bad weather caused two candidates for the Republican
presidential nomination, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and U.S.
Senator Marco Rubio, to cancel campaign events in Iowa.
In Arkansas, a 31-year-old man drowned in a flood-swollen creek
about 65 miles northwest of Little Rock, authorities said on Monday.
Six tornadoes were reported on Sunday - three in Arkansas, one in
Texas, and two in Mississippi.
U.S. President Barack Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, called Texas
Governor Gregg Abbott on Monday to receive an update and to offer
his administration's continued support after weekend tornadoes that
killed at least 11 people in the Dallas area and damaged about 1,600
structures and homes.
One twister in the city of Garland, Texas, had winds of up to 200
miles per hour (322 km per hour) and killed eight people, including
a 30-year-old woman and her year-old son.
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"We are very blessed that we didn't have more injuries and more
fatalities," Garland's Mayor Douglas Athas told CNN.
"RIPPED OUR WORLD APART"
In the Dallas suburbs of Garland and Rowlett, which were devastated
by tornadoes on Saturday, many residents turned to social media to
tell stories of survival and to ask for help finding lost pets.
Briana Landrum posted a photo of her living room couch surrounded by
wreckage where her house once stood in Rowlett. Her two cats are
missing, she wrote, and the freezing rain has made searching for her
"sweet babies" difficult.
"The roof fell on us one second and the next, it was gone," she
wrote. "The tornado ripped our world apart."Ten deaths and 58
injuries were reported in Mississippi, and hundreds of homes were
damaged, authorities said. One man recounted how a tornado swept his
adult son through treetops before dropping him hundreds of feet
In flooded southern Missouri, dozens of adults and children forced
from their homes took refuge at Red Cross shelters. Four
international soldiers receiving training at the Fort Leonard Wood
military base drowned when their vehicle was swept into flood waters
on Sunday, the Army said in a statement. Their identities and home
countries have not yet been released.
Red Cross spokeswoman Julie Stolting said there was no telling when
displaced people might be able to return home. "But we're feeding
them, we're sheltering them, we're providing health services," she
In Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin extended a state of emergency for
all 77 counties on Monday after freezing rain, ice and sleet left
nearly 200,000 homes without power.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago, Heide Brandes in Oklahoma
City, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Letitia Stein in Tampa,
Florida, Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas, Laila Kearney in New York, Sara
Catania and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Emily Stephenson, and Jeff
Mason in Hawaii; Writing by Mary Wisniewski and Daniel Wallis;
Editing by Bill Trott and Diane Craft)
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