A massive early winter storm is producing hazardous weather from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. A blizzard has paralyzed parts of Midwest while severe thunderstorms - some spawning tornadoes - have rumbled through the South.
A tornado touched down in Mobile, Al this morning, damaging buildings and overturning cars The Weather Channel said. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center has logged scores of wind damage reports across the Gulf Coast states. A tornado watch is in effect until 7 p.m. ET in parts of northwest Florida and southwest Georgia.
To the north, blinding snow is falling from near St. Louis northeast into south central Wisconsin. In many locations visibilities have dropped below one quarter mile due to heavy snow and winds gusting from 35-55 mph. Thundersnow has been reported in some areas as well.
“Interstates are still shut down from near Omaha and Lincoln across much of Iowa. An estimated 30,000 people in Iowa are without power,” writes meteorologist Paul Douglas for the Star Tribune, headlining his blog post “Iowa and Wisconsin Closed Until Further Notice.”
A 25 car pile-up in whiteout conditions in eastern Iowa (near Waterloo) resulted in three deaths.
Des Moines International Airport reported 12.4 inches of snow at noon (central time). As much as 18 inches of snow has fallen in northwest Dane county in Wisconsin, with 11 inches at the Madison airport (link: southern Wisconsin snow totals).
AccuWeather reports high winds from the blizzard knocked out power to thousands of customers around Kansas City.
In Chicago, mainly rain has fallen with temperatures still 46 at 3 p.m. (central). But a flash freeze is predicted tonight, with rain rapidly changing to snow after 8 p.m. (local time) A winter storm warning has been posted for 2 to 6 inches of snow coupled with howling winds of 30-40 mph with 50 to 60 mph gusts. A period of blizzard conditions is possible late tonight. Already more than 500 flights in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports have been cancelled today.
Once the storm exits the Upper Midwest, it will bring wind and rain to the East Coast Friday except wind and snow in parts of the interior Northeast (mainly high elevations) and downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario.