Click here for updates on the winter storm affecting the Northeast as well as additional news on the blizzard in the north-central U.S. and the severe weather outbreak in the South.
Wind and snow have blasted the north-central U.S. this week, bringing travel to a halt and leaving some residents in the dark. As of Thursday morning, 155,000 electric customers across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan were without power, according to PowerOutage.us.
Wisconsin accounted for nearly half of the outages across the region with most of the outages reported in the central and northwestern areas of the state. Over 74% of all residents in Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn counties were in the dark on Thursday morning with over a foot of fresh snow blanketing the counties. Some outages could be lengthy as the ongoing wintry weather could make it challenging for crews to restore power across the region.
At least 21 tornadoes have been confirmed from the severe weather outbreak that rampaged across the south-central and Gulf Coast states Monday through Wednesday. An EF3 tornado ripped through Union Parish, Louisiana, which is east of Shreveport, on Tuesday. According to the storm survey, the twister craved a 9.1 mile path with maximum winds of 140 mph. At least 14 injuries were reported with this singular tornado, but as of Wednesday evening, no fatalities were reported.
From Texas to the Florida Panhandle, at least eight EF2, seven EF1, four EF0 and an EF unknown tornadoes have been confirmed. The EF unknown category is reserved for twisters that cannot be rated due to a lack of damage evidence. As storm surveys continue, more confirmed tornadoes will be added to this total in the coming days.
Cleanup has begun after blizzard conditions and snowstorms left quite the mess across parts of the Plains and Upper Midwest. Accidents were reported across the region, including in Minnesota, where emergency crews responded to over a dozen accidents on Tuesday night. On top of regular commuters, ranchers have been working throughout the storm to keep their animals safe. “12-hour [storms], we usually survive, it’s the 36-hour ones that get us in a lot of trouble,” South Dakota resident Mark Selting told AccuWeather National Reporter Emmy Victor. Vehicles were stuck in ice throughout the region, where interstate closures were forced in the Dakotas, Wyoming and Nebraska due to the conditions. “It’s picking up snow and moving it to where you can’t see 20 feet sometimes,” South Dakota resident Brandon West told Victor about the poor visibility in the area. A dry end to the week will give residents a chance to dig out of the snow while storms take aim at the northeast.
A major winter storm has left quite the mess across parts of the country.
Jefferson Parish Councilman Scott Walker gave an update to his constituents outside of a Winn-Dixie grocery store in Marrero, Louisiana, after an apparent tornado hit the Westbank area of New Orleans in the late afternoon hours Wednesday. The grocery store front was ripped apart by the storms. Walker commented that he saw path at least a mile long of damages off the Westbank Expressway. “Power lines down, homes severely damaged, roofs ripped off, it is an extensive damage scene and a long path of destruction,” Walker said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a statewide state of emergency as a result of the “imminent threat of emergency conditions that threaten the lives and property of the citizens” of Louisiana Wednesday. The declaration authorizes the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to undertake any activity authorized by law that is deemed appropriate in response to the severe weather that has hit the state. The declaration also forbids raising prices of goods and services within the designated emergency area. The state of emergency is scheduled through January 12, unless terminated sooner.
After a tornado touched down in Arabi, a suburb of New Orleans, Wednesday afternoon, roughly 10 people were rescued from the damages, according to St. Bernard Parish officials. Parish President Guy McInnis stated that a complete assessment will begin Thursday night to determine how many homes were damaged, saying that while roofs are part of the damages, the overall toll is “not as significant as it was last time.” The "last time" was in March, when a EF3 tornado struck Arabi and the surrounding areas of St. Bernard Parish with a maximum wind speed of 160 mph. Officials also stated that the two-mile path carved by the tornado did not result in any major injuries or deaths, but minor injuries did occur. Those rescued were either trapped inside structures, or had mobility issues and could not get out of their homes.
The blizzard over the north-central Plains is beginning to wind down, but very impressive snowfall totals have been observed. Although the snow is difficult to measure given the blowing and drifting, Deadwood, South Dakota, had 36 inches of snow. Several locations in the state received over 2 feet of snow.
Farther east, snow is still falling in Duluth, Minnesota, where over a foot has already accumulated. Earlier on Wednesday, Duluth met the official criteria of a blizzard. A blizzard is defined as three hours of visibility of one-quarter of a mile or less and winds frequently gusting over 35 mph. Thundersnow is not one of the qualifiers for a blizzard, but Duluth also had one report of thunder with the snow.
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, experienced flash flooding on Wednesday night as creeks and waterways in the city poured over their banks and spilled into roadways, according to the local police department. The area had been under a flash flood warning as early as 3:25 p.m., local time, and by 4 p.m., photos posted by the Hattiesburg Police Department over Twitter showed floodwaters from Gordon’s Creek covering a section of the road in downtown Hattiesburg. “Crews are out right now getting a lot of the vehicles that have been stuck out from the water,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Tony Laubach said in a live report in the city. He delivered the report near a flooded parking lot that he said had just been cleared after stuck vehicles had been towed away.
Victims of the deadly severe storms across the southern United States will likely face frigid conditions next week, part of a deep freeze that will encapsulate the majority of the country. A blast of cold air is scheduled to flow into North America from Siberia, potentially challenging record low temperatures that have stood since the 1980s. AccuWeather long-range forecasters expect temperatures to be up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit below late-December averages in parts of the country. Bitter cold will expand into the central and southern Plains during the second half of next week, which may stress energy grids in the South.
“This round of cold will undoubtedly increase the energy demand across a wide swath of the nation due to the increased demand for heating purposes,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said. In Texas, where storms struck on Tuesday, low temperatures later next week are forecast to be in the teens in Amarillo and in the 20s around Dallas. Near-freezing temperatures could also threaten crops in far southern Texas during Hanukkah and around the Christmas holiday.
Over 47,000 customers across Louisiana were without power Wednesday evening as severe weather rumbled through the state, according to PowerOutage.US. The majority of the outages were concentrated in the southeastern corner of Louisiana with over 21,000 customers without power in Jefferson Parish where a likely tornado had struck Marrero, Louisiana, earlier on Wednesday. Marrero is located about 9 miles southwest of downtown New Orleans, and the storm had prompted a shelter-in-pace order for the University of New Orleans and Tulane University. Another 13,000 customers were without power in the neighboring parish of Orleans.
Tornadoes tearing through Louisiana and Mississippi Wednesday brought deadly hazards, injured dozens and wrought mass destruction. Photos captured throughout the day showcase the devastation across the states, the second straight day that tornadoes have hit the southern areas.
Officials in St. Bernard Parish have confirmed that a tornado touched down in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi, Louisiana, causing major damage Wednesday afternoon. Local firefighters and police were assessing the damage, and officials urged residents to stay out of the area until further notice. A local news camera captured the tornado on the ground in Arabi and the Lower Ninth Ward. Arabi and Lower Ninth Ward have been beleaguered with severe weather this year, as the area was also hit with a tornado that rampaged through the area in March, destroying dozens of homes and buildings.
An apparent tornado has hit the Westbank area of New Orleans in the late afternoon hours Wednesday, damaging local homes and businesses. At approximately 4:30 p.m. local time, photos were released of a street completely torn up by the storm, sending debris flying. Off the Westbank Expressway in Marrero, about 9 miles southwest of downtown New Orleans, structural damage was seen at a local Winn-Dixie grocery store. The tornado and storms in New Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes have left more than 30,000 customers without power as of 4:30 p.m. local time.
AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer was live Wednesday afternoon in the heart of the Louisiana bayou, where he encountered a tornado-warned storm in Ville Platte, Louisiana, that developed a tornado but did not cause any damages. Due to the risk storms have posed across the South, including across southern Mississippi, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center has issued a moderate risk area, meaning widespread severe storms are “likely” and will potentially be “long-lived, widespread and intense.” Cities such as Hattiesburg, Mississippi and New Orleans are in the moderate risk area.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay tuned to those severe weather watches and warnings across the moderate risk area today and tonight,” Timmer said. “It’s going to be a very dangerous day ahead.”
Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer is tracking renegade storms that could produce tornadoes in the Southeast.
St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell stated Wednesday afternoon that one person has died and several others are injured after a possible tornado in the Killona area. Search and rescue operations are ongoing in the area. As a result of the severe weather, Jewell has declared a state of emergency in the parish. The parish’s emergency operations center received reports Wednesday afternoon of further damage in the Killona area, including downed power lines and blocked roads. A tornado was detected via radar in the parish’s community of Montz, leading to home damage in the area. Parish officials warned residents that they should avoid the area, and to not touch downed power lines, as they may still be electrified. St. Charles Parish has a population of just over 50,000, and is located roughly 25 miles west of New Orleans.
Wednesday’s tornado outbreak reached one of the South’s largest hubs as a possible tornado was moving towards New Orleans at approximately 4 p.m. local time. Video from a Department of Transportation camera picked up an apparent tornado moving through Marrero, about 9 miles southwest of downtown New Orleans. A subsequent tornado warning for the hub has prompted a shelter-in-place order for the University of New Orleans, as well as Tulane University.
Residents were advised to seek shelter as soon as possible. Around the time of the tornado warning, roofing materials and building insulation were seen falling out of the sky onto lower Canal Street in uptown New Orleans.
The GOES-EAST weather satellite captured an image of the contiguous United States on Wednesday that showed the massive storm system responsible for the ongoing blizzard and severe weather outbreak. Areas of green, yellow and red in the clouds over the Gulf Coast indicate where the satellite is detecting lightning with the storms over the region. Farther north, the system’s center was swirling near the border of South Dakota and Nebraska with snow still falling over parts of the region.
AccuWeather National Reporter Jillian Angeline was on the scene in Keithville, Louisiana, Wednesday after a reported tornado left two dead and two others hospitalized with injuries in the community 20 minutes southwest of Shreveport. The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed the two fatalities, one being a young boy found in a wooded area near his home that had been destroyed, along with his mother, with the mother’s body discovered about 2:30 a.m. local time Wednesday under debris caused by the twister. Angeline noted that officials had analyzed about 50 structures for damages thus far, with at least three homes destroyed, and that damage reports were expected to rise throughout Wednesday. Trees in the area were also uprooted.
Two fatalities were confirmed in Keithville, Louisiana, in the aftermath of a devastating tornado that left many homes destroyed on Dec. 14. AccuWeather’s Jillian Angeline was at the scene.
Angeline spoke with Robert Jump, Deputy Director of the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, who laid out his priorities in the aftermath of the deadly storm. “We want to make sure that every individual that was impacted by this storm, that we address what needs that they have, and that would be primarily … do they have shelter, can they get out of the elements,” Jump said. Jump previously told Angeline that at least 20-25 families would not be able to return to their homes right away after damages to the properties.
A tornado on the ground just west of New Orleans has caused damages to at least one house in the area, along with toppling power lines and street lights. The tornado was picked up via radar around 2:20 p.m. local time, moving into Montz, Louisiana, about 30 miles west of New Orleans. Local emergency officials confirmed damage to the home, utility poles and street lights, and 911 calls were made to St. Charles Emergency Management about possible damage to another home in the Montz area.
Residents in Farmerville, Louisiana, a town about 35 miles northwest of the city Monroe, were left to pick up the pieces Wednesday morning after a tornado struck Tuesday night. Resident Tyshiba Wilson told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell that she had scrambled to get her young daughters and niece to the bathtub as the warnings went off on her phone. It was only a matter of seconds before the winds hit, tearing through her home. Wilson braced herself with one foot against the door and the other against the counter, fighting against the wind to hold it shut. “I said, ‘Y’all pray. We’re going to get through this,’” she recounted to Wadell. “And we made it up out of there, but it was just devastating. It just took everything.”
Bill Wadell was in Farmerville, Louisiana, where a tornado severely damaged homes and injured dozens of people on Dec. 13, leaving residents to pick up the pieces in the aftermath.
No fatalities have been reported in the area, but at least two dozen people were injured around Farmerville, local authorities told Wadell. The force of the winds was enough to roll vehicles, destroy mobile homes and pry shingles from roofs, but Wilson also pointed out that many children in the area have not only lost many of their belongings, but also Christmas gifts in the storm.
The Iberia Medical Center was damaged on Wednesday after a tornado-warned thunderstorm roared through the city, located 100 miles west of New Orleans. Five people are being treated for “very minor injuries” at the medical center, despite the building sustaining damage by the likely tornado, local news station KATC reported. Local authorities are urging residents to shelter in place due to damage across the city, including downed power lines. As of 1:15 p.m. CST Wednesday, Iberia Parish accounted for 30% of the 7,200 power outages across Louisiana, according to PowerOutage.us.
A “Particularly Dangerous Situation” (PDS) watch has been issued for portions of southwest Alabama, southeast Louisiana and southern and central Mississippi until late Wednesday evening. Numerous tornadoes are expected, and a few intense tornadoes are likely, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) noted in its warning. Scattered damaging wind gusts and isolated large hail events are also possible, the SPC warned.
While all severe weather outbreaks could be dangerous in some way or another, the PDS is reserved for certain situations. In the event of a tornado watch with the PDS wording, long-lived, intense tornadoes are likely, according to the SPC. The wording may also be used in severe thunderstorm watches for widespread significant weather events such as derechos. “PDS watches are issued, when in the opinion of the forecaster, the likelihood of significant events is boosted by very volatile atmospheric conditions,” according to the SPC. “Usually this decision is based on a number of atmospheric clues and parameters, so the decision to issue a PDS watch is subject with no hard criteria.”
Nearly a dozen thunderstorms in eastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi were capable of spinning up tornadoes at midday Wednesday. At 12:10 p.m. CST, nine tornado warnings were in effect, including one warning for a radar-confirmed tornado tracking toward Franklinton, Louisiana, located 60 miles north of New Orleans. A second radar-confirmed tornado was located just a few miles away from the first and was tracking over Fluker, Louisiana. The tornado threat is forecast to escalate in what AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter called “a dangerous afternoon on the way.”
A CBS17 weather camera captured the moments when a large and destructive tornado barreled through New Iberia, Louisiana, which is southeast of Lafayette, on Wednesday morning. According to the New Iberia police department, several homes were damaged and numerous people were trapped in the Southport subdivision area, which is located in the southern part of the town. Rescue efforts were underway shortly after the tornado passed through the town. The Iberia Medical Center, located about 2 miles from the Southport subdivision, also sustained damage. A photo shared on Facebook showed significant damage to the medical building. Windows were shown blown out, and debris could be seen on the roof and on the ground.
The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Fort Worth, Texas, confirmed an additional three tornadoes in North Texas on Wednesday morning. This brings the new total to eight twisters, and the office expects the number to rise near or above 12 throughout the day. One additional tornado was confirmed as an EF1 in Tarrant County and an additional survey is still ongoing in Grapevine, Texas. An EF0 was confirmed just northwest of Callisburg, Texas. In Wise County, an EF2 tornado was confirmed with maximum winds of 125 mph.
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has upgraded its outlook for Wednesday’s severe weather to a “moderate” level for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Out of the five severe weather outlooks the SPC issues, the moderate risk is a level four, which means long-lived severe storms are likely within the newly defined area. Damaging winds, flooding downpours, very large hail and several tornadoes are expected late Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night from eastern Louisiana to western Alabama. Nearly 3 million people are located within the moderate risk area. Some major cities, such as New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, are within the moderate risk zone. Residents should have a plan in place for when storms arrive and have their phones charged in the event that the storm creates widespread power outages.
AccuWeather national reporter Jillian Angeline spoke with Robert Jump, the deputy director for the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, about the deadly twister that tore through the town on Tuesday. Jump confirmed the two fatalities and added that two more people were hospitalized for injuries. “We’re looking at about 50 properties that have some impact,” Jump said to Angeline, noting the twister craved about a mile-long path through the town of Keithville. “We can confirm that three [properties] have been completely destroyed, but I can imagine that number is going to rise.”
Jump explained that at least 20-25 families will not be able to go back to their homes right away since their houses were impacted by the severe weather. Jump recommends that people avoid the area for the time being as crews begin to clean up the mess. “Anytime you have a disaster site like this, power lines are down…you have trees that are across roads, across homes. There are all kinds of hazards associated with a debris field that we’re dealing with. If you have no business being in this area, then please do not come in this area.”
Two fatalities were confirmed in Keithville, Louisiana, in the aftermath of a devastating tornado that left many homes destroyed on Dec. 14. AccuWeather’s Jillian Angeline was at the scene.
The Mason trailer park community in Anguilla, Mississippi, which is located about 60 miles northwest of Jackson, sustained substantial damage after an unconfirmed tornado ripped through early Wednesday morning. Photos shared by Ashley Renee, a meteorologist for The Delta News, show trailers toppled over, debris scattered about and large trees uprooted. In another photo, two trailers could be seen still standing as a pile of debris littered the yard in front of them. Everything from insulation, to wires and wood, could be seen in the massive pile of debris. Leslie Jackson told WLBT that her mobile home was still standing after the storms, but her neighbor wasn’t as lucky. Photos shared by WLBT showed a mountain of debris that was once a home completely burying a car.
“This will go down as a verified BLIZZARD in the record books at the Duluth International Airport,” the National Weather Service said on Wednesday morning as snow and wind blasted the northern Plains. For a snowstorm to be called a blizzard, there must be blowing snow that reduces visibility to one-quarter of a mile or less with winds frequently gusting over 35 mph for three consecutive hours. Other weather stations across the Plains have observed blizzard conditions but the winds and reduced visibility did not last for at least three hours. As a bonus, Duluth experienced thundersnow at 7:41 a.m. CST, a phenomenon that is rare during blizzards.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Particularly Dangerous Situation for a confirmed large tornado that was approaching Lawrence, Mississippi, just before 8 a.m. local time, Wednesday morning. The large twister was located near Forest, Mississippi, which is just east of Jackson, and was moving east at 35 mph. The warning from the NWS states that “flying debris may be deadly” to those without shelter, “mobile homes will be destroyed,” “considerable damage” to homes, businesses and vehicles is likely and “complete destruction is possible.” The NWS urges people to seek shelter immediately.
As bands of heavy snow continue to track across Minnesota, thundersnow was reported at the Duluth International Airport early Wednesday morning
The process for thundersnow is very similar to the process for the typical summertime thunderstorm. As ice crystals clash together in turbulent updrafts, charged particles are generated. When the charge builds up, the energy is released in a bolt of lightning accompanied by a clap of thunder. Thundersnow is unusual but typically happens a few times each year during strong snowstorms.
“Thunderstorms during the warm season have a much easier time developing strong updrafts because there is more warmth and moisture to feed on and more instability aloft,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Jordan Root explained. Within the intense winter storm that is delivering snow to the northern Plains, strong updrafts have been able to create thunder and lightning across Minnesota.
The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed a second fatality in the Pecan Farms area of Keithville, Louisiana, early Wednesday. Hours after a young boy was confirmed dead in a wooded area near where his home had been destroyed by a reported tornado, first responders found the body of his mother who had been reported missing after the storm ripped through the area. Her body was discovered about 2:30 a.m. local time Wednesday under debris caused by the twister about one street over from where her home had been located. First responders continue to search the area for unknown victims, but there have been no other reports of missing people, the sheriff’s office said. Keithville is located about 20 minutes southwest of Shreveport.
As a blizzard buried the northern Plains on Tuesday, snow piled up quickly. Totals topped 20 inches in multiple locations in South Dakota. Even in Nebraska, Merritt Reservoir received 22 inches.
Snow will continue to fall on Wednesday, before slowly winding down on Thursday.
Storms in the southern Plains have produced significant rainfall in several locations throughout Oklahoma and Texas this week. Over the past 36 hours, the top rainfall report was in Lake Thunderbird, Oklahoma, where 2.28 inches of rain fell. Norman, Oklahoma, the state’s second most populous city, received 2.22 inches of rainfall. There were reports of cars stalled in floodwaters in Norman and Lawton, Oklahoma.
While tornadoes have been rampaging across the southern United States, blizzard conditions have infiltrated more northern areas, causing travel nightmares for many residents of the Plains Tuesday. Blizzard conditions were confirmed Tuesday afternoon east of Denver, in the cities of Burlington and Wray, Colorado, as well as Saint Francis and Goodland, Kansas. A blizzard is defined as a storm that brings sustained winds or wind gusts of 35 mph or greater, and visibility less than one-quarter of a mile for three consecutive hours. Blizzard conditions also forced closures of interstates in Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.
Authorities have confirmed the first fatality as a result of Tuesday's day of destructive weather in the southern United States. Just before midnight, local time, Caddo Parish Sheriff Stephen Prator confirmed a child was killed Tuesday after a tornado tore through the southwestern portion of the parish.
This latest development comes as one woman remains hospitalized and two other people remain missing near Four Forks, Louisiana. Caddo sheriff's deputies continued to complete door-to-door welfare checks on other residents in the affected area Tuesday night, according to KSLA, a local news agency.
In addition, a helicopter crew was dispatched to the area with a spotlight to aid rescuers, AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell reported.
The National Weather Service Fort Worth office confirmed five out of the 12 possible tornadoes in North Texas as of Tuesday evening. The confirmed tornadoes included one in Wise County, one west of Paris, Texas, and three in Tarrant County, where five people were injured. Storm surveys rated the tornado that had tracked through Wise County Tuesday morning as an EF2 tornado with winds of up to 125 mph. Three of the damage tracks in Tarrant County were attributed to two EF0 twisters and one EF1 tornado.
Click here for previous updates on the severe weather outbreak in the South and the blizzard in the northern U.S.
Want next-level safety, ad-free? Unlock advanced, hyperlocal severe weather alerts when you subscribe to Premium+ on the AccuWeather app. AccuWeather Alerts™ are prompted by our expert meteorologists who monitor and analyze dangerous weather risks 24/7 to keep you and your family safer.
Top StoriesMore Stories