The massive storm system that pulverized homes, killed three people in Louisiana and brought blizzard conditions to northern states will inflict a new wave of brutal weather starting Thursday.
Significant ice and heavy snow will smother parts of the Mid-Atlantic and New England, forecasters said.
Ice storm warnings are in effect for the central Appalachians of western Virginia, eastern West Virginia, the Maryland Panhandle and parts of central and western Pennsylvania—where up to a quarter inch to a half inch of ice could stack up by Thursday evening.
Already, freezing rain and snow are covering parts of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic. A quarter inch of ice was reported Thursday morning in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia and Maryland, and about a tenth of an inch had built up in parts of Virginia.
And over the next two days, 6 to 12 inches of snow could pile up from central Pennsylvania northward to upstate New York. Places with higher elevations could get walloped with up to 2 feet of snow.
The intense snowfall will spread into interior New England on Friday, with up to a foot expected there.
The mammoth storm system that plowed across much of the country this week will morph into a nor’easter that will spread ice, snow and rain to the Northeast.
Major cities including New York and Boston will likely get doused with 1 to 2 inches of rain into the weekend from the nor’easter.
Winter weather advisories are in effect for Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia due to the possibility of freezing rain.
‘More Devastating Than Initially Expected’
The tornado that shredded much of Gretna, Louisiana, on Wednesday may have damaged up to 5,000 structures, the mayor said.
“Unfortunately, now that the sun is up, it is more devastating than initially expected,” Mayor Belinda Constant said Thursday.
“There are more houses that will probably have to be condemned or just demolished based on such damage,” she said. “It’s about a mile-and-a-half stretch that is completely just inundated with destruction.”
Despite the devastation in Gretna, only three injuries were reported, the mayor said.
“This is not the place where we normally have tornadoes. So our reality of a safe house is not what it is in other parts of the country. But people survived in bathtubs,” she said.
“We’re a resilient people, and this is the type of thing that don’t choose locations.”
Widespread Power Outages in the Cold
From tornadoes in the South to blizzard conditions in the Upper Midwest, more than 130,000 homes, businesses and other electricity customers in the United States had no power Thursday morning, according to PowerOutage.us.
Most of those outages—about 115,000—were in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Ferocious winds from blizzard conditions knocked down power lines in the Upper Midwest, and temperatures in some areas without power plunged to near or below freezing.
In the South, which was hit by multiple tornadoes, about 10,000 power customers were in the dark Thursday morning. About 9,000 outages were reported in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.
A Mother and Child Were Killed and Found Far From Their Home
The same storm system now slamming eastern states left a trail of devastation in Gulf Coast states.
At least 50 tornado reports have been made since Tuesday in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma.
At least three deaths in Louisiana have been linked to the storm.
Yoshiko A. Smith, 30, and her 8-year-old son, Nikolus Little, were killed Tuesday when a tornado struck Caddo Parish and destroyed their home, local officials said.
Their bodies were found far from where their house once stood, officials said. Autopsies have been ordered for both, the county coronor said.
In St. Charles Parish, a 56-year-old woman died after a tornado hit her home, the Louisiana Department of Health said Wednesday.
In Texas, a tornado struck Wise County near Paradise and Decatur on Tuesday, officials said. Video showed homes splintered, with roofs ripped off in Decatur.
And in Wayne, Oklahoma, a tornado damaged homes and barns Tuesday, officials said. No injuries were reported, but homes were flattened or had roofs torn off, according to footage from CNN affiliate KOCO.
‘All We Could Hear Was Glass Popping Everywhere’
In the Louisiana town of Farmerville, at least 20 people were injured when a tornado struck Union Parish on Tuesday night—demolishing parts of an apartment complex and a mobile home park, Farmerville police Detective Cade Nolan said.
Patsy Andrews was home with her children in Farmerville when she heard “rushing wind like a train” outside, she told CNN affiliate KNOE-TV.
“All of a sudden that wind was so heavy, it broke my back door,” Andrews said. “The lights went off and all we could hear was glass popping everywhere.”
Andrews said she and her daughter hit the floor, crawling into a hallway as glass shattered around them and water leaked through the roof. They ended up hunkering down in their bathroom.
“We just got in the tub and we hugged each other. We just kept praying and I just kept calling on Jesus,” Andrews said. Her family survived the storm but was left with a damaged home.
Given the extensive destruction across the state, “I am amazed that we didn’t have more loss of life in Louisiana, and I’m very thankful for it,” Gov. Jon Bel Edwards said Thursday.
Edwards said alert notifications on cell phones were extremely important in giving people proper warning before storms impacted their areas.
“The warning … tells you there is a tornado in your area, take shelter immediately,” the governor said. “We know that that’s saving lives across the state.”
But while road crews clear debris and try to restore downed power lines, Edwards urged residents to avoid sightseeing hard-hit areas—such as Iberia Medical Center in New Iberia, a city reportedly hit by a tornado.
“If you want to see the medical office building, go to the CNN website,” the governor said.
In Arabi, Louisiana, Cindy DeLucca Hernandez thought she could beat the storm while driving home with her 16-year-old son after school. Then she found herself facing a tornado.
Hernandez shared video with CNN that showed a tornado blowing through Arabi, kicking up debris and taking out power lines.
“We started seeing debris and we got hit a couple of times by it,” Hernandez said. “That’s when I put the car in reverse.”
Hernandez and her son made it home safely.
But “it was extremely scary,” Hernandez said. “I’ve never ever been through anything like that.”
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