Two people died on Thursday as a result of a severe storm system that caused blizzard conditions in the US Midwest and torrential rain and flood threats in the South.
A 58-year-old woman in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, died after a tree fell on her camper trailer Wednesday night, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards tells CNN affiliate WDSU.
Eleven inches of rain has fallen in areas of Washington Parish, Louisiana, and Walthall County, Mississippi, according to the National Weather Service office in Slidell, Louisiana.
NWS Meteorologist Bob Wagner told CNN the weather system stalled in this one small area for the last five or six hours.
“There’s still rain sitting on the Louisiana Coast that could keep streaming on them for the next 3 to 6 hours,” Wagner said. He said he’s heard reports of some water rescues, but luckily the area is sparsely populated.
In addition, whiteout conditions in parts of the Midwest have caused several road closures and general travel issues.
Kansas State Highway Patrol reported a weather-related death on Interstate 70 near Oakley. The crash involved a commercial vehicle and a passenger car, Trooper Tod Hileman said.
All this spells more nightmares for holiday travelers heading into New Year’s weekend.
“This storm system was always comprised of two threats — one for blizzard conditions and another for severe weather,” CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said.
Here’s what’s happening in different parts of the country:
‘Our town has come to a complete standstill’ in the Midwest
About 1 million people are under blizzard warnings Thursday in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett said.
“Snow with high winds and low visibility will make travel in this area dangerous if not impossible at times,” Garrett said.
The storm system is expected to dump 6 to 12 inches of snow in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, Norman said.
In Kansas, blizzard conditions closed a 75-mile stretch on Interstate 70 from Colby to WaKeeney as well as roads from west of Garden City to the Colorado state line. Blizzard conditions over the Northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest are expected to end early Friday morning.
Roads in parts of central and northern Minnesota are covered with ice and snow. The Minnesota Department of Transportation urged drivers to wait for conditions to improve if travel isn’t necessary.
In South Dakota, snow and mixed precipitation will worsen as heavy snow combines with wind.
In Nebraska, whiteout conditions and crashes forced the closure of Interstate 80 between Lexington and North Platte.
Sharon Kay Oelkers captured video of snow blinding her town of Elwood, Nebraska, on Thursday morning.
“Our town has come to a complete standstill,” Oelkers told CNN. “I work at the local grocery store and even we are closed and we never close.”
Parts of the Southeast could get flooded
About 24 million people are under flood watches or flash flood watches through early Saturday, Norman said.
Those watches cover parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas.
Atlanta, home of the world’s busiest airport, could get up to 6 inches of rain by the end of this weekend — potentially snarling holiday travel.
Fierce storms hit Gulf Coast states
Coastal parts of Texas are getting walloped Thursday after severe weather caused in-flight injuries and spiked a football game a day earlier in the Dallas area.
“Severe storms including damaging winds and an isolated tornado are possible along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama today,” Garrett said Thursday.
“Winds will also be strong from the Gulf Coast northward to the Ohio Valley, with winds gusting up to 45 mph throughout the day today.”