Big Crazy Storm Dec 22, 2013 13:43:02 GMT -5
Post by coolplanet on Dec 22, 2013 13:43:02 GMT -5
"Big, crazy storm of contrasts" rips South, Northeast
New York City reached 70 degrees. "Records are just being smashed all over the place."
John Bacon, USA TODAY | December 22, 2013
High winds, ice, snow and rain rocked a wide swath of the Southeast and roared north Sunday, ripping off roofs, tearing down power lines and leaving at least two people dead.
The storm's northern advance featured sleet and freezing rain, sparking travel advisories across much of New York and New England and knocking out power to about 100,000. Meanwhile, many Eastern cities were seeing record high temperatures
"It's a big, crazy storm of contrasts," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Walker. "This morning it was 72 degrees in Newark, N.J., and 41 degrees in Boston."
Parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma saw several inches of snow and in some places treacherous ice, Walker said. Yet the streets were just wet in Chicago.
High winds and rain blasted the Southeast. In Mississippi, one man died after his mobile home overturned in the northern part of the state while another man was killed when his car hit a tree that had fallen across a county road in the southeastern part.
In Arkansas, at least five people were injured and two dozen homes were damaged. The National Weather Service was investigating whether two tornadoes might have touched down.
In Louisiana, the weather service was sending crews across the northern part of the state to view the storm's path, speed and amount of damage there to determine if a tornado struck. In Monroe, La., a bookstore, a tire outlet, a theater and a funeral home were among the buildings damaged in the storm.
Wind caused the roof of a fitness center in a strip mall to collapse in Senatobia, 40 miles south of Memphis. No injuries were reported.
The storm drove gusty winds as it moved across Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky on Saturday night, with multiple reports of winds stronger than 50 mph. Downed trees and power outages were widespread in those states, as they were in states to the west.
In some cities to the north, record warm temperatures were the news of the day. New York City reached 70 degrees in the morning and the temperature was forecast to continue rising. The previous record for Dec. 22, set 15 years ago, was 63 degrees.
"Records are just being smashed all over the place," Walker said. But Walker cautioned that New Yorkers should keep those winter coats within easy reach -- the forecast for Christmas day is sunny with a high of 30 degrees.
Farther north, the cold was already ensonced. Ice and whipping winds knocked down power lines and trees and caused power outages across much of northern New York state and New England as officials urged motorists to avoid traveling in dangerously slick conditions.
The ice storm was expected to continue into Sunday afternoon for northern parts of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire as well as western Maine, according to the National Weather Service. More than 95,000 utility customers already were without power Sunday morning in New York, Vermont and Maine.
Meteorologist Brooke Taber of the National Weather Service said Sunday that an ice storm warning remained in effect in Vermont all day — and he added that he wouldn't be surprised if the number of outages increased.
"Right now it's a mix of sleet and freezing rain across the Champlain Valley, and we've also had several reports of lightning over the waterfront in Burlington," Taber said. He said forecasters expected the heavier mix of precipitation to taper off to scattered areas of sleet and freezing rain, and eventually change over entirely to rain.
Taber said as of 6 a.m., Burlington International Airport had seen a half-inch of ice accumulate, and 1.2 inches of sleet and freezing rain.
In upstate New York's St. Lawrence County, almost 2 inches of ice had accumulated in the early-morning hours of Sunday, coating tree limbs and power lines, county dispatch operations supervisor Jim Chestnut said.
Winds were expected to pick up, increasing the chances of outage issues, but a state of emergency was keeping roads clear of hapless motorists, Chestnut said.