A storm that caused flooding that forced about 6,000 people from their homes in Arkansas and Tennessee brought more ice and snow to the Plains yesterday and slowly moved eastward with more rain expected in the Memphis area.
More than 10 inches of rain fell in some areas of Tennessee and Arkansas Thursday and Friday. Water was up to four feet deep in Arkansas and six feet in Tennessee.
Evacuations began yesterday in the town of Raleigh North, Tenn., between Millington and Memphis. The number of people forced from their homes was undetermined.
The center of the storm system was between Phoenix and Tucson yesterday and was expected to swing through New Mexico and into Kansas by tonight, said Dan McCarthy of the National Weather Service.
"That's when it's really going to produce," McCarthy said. "We're looking for a lot of snow in Kansas."
At least 17 traffic deaths have been blamed on the storm since Tuesday.
The storm could be especially dangerous if it brings more ice. Freezing rain on Friday glazed roads in northwest Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and southwest Missouri.
No more flooding was reported yesterday in Arkansas despite a third day of rain, but the Shelby County Sheriff's Department at Memphis said that 4,000 people left their homes in Millington, Tenn.
"Most of the creeks and rivers in the north end of Shelby County have overflowed their banks," said dispatcher Larry Nelson. "The city of Millington in the past 36 hours has had over 10 inches of rain, and another heavy rain cell is getting ready to enter the city of Memphis right now."
But Millington Mayor George Harvell said the floodwaters were beginning to recede and some people were going home, although a trailer park remained flooded and electricity was off in the area at least until today.
Harvell said as many as 170 trailers, 96 apartments and 50 houses were flooded, with water four feet deep in some homes. He estimated damage at a minimum of "several million dollars."
Jimmy Smith, director of reserves for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, said more areas were flooding outside Millington.
"We have some subdivisions . . . that are flooding from the Loosahatchie River," Smith said. "This morning one of our service units went in with boats and the water was so swift the boat turned over."
"I don't think I'll forget this Christmas. I wish I could," Police Chief Don Dingham said as he worked on rescue efforts Friday in Millington. "I lost everything in my house."
In West Memphis, hit earlier this month by a tornado that killed six people, as many as 2,000 people were evacuated Christmas Day and were still away from their homes.
The situation in West Memphis was described as "stabilizing" and no new flooding was reported, but waters had not receded.
A flash flood watch was in effect for the southeastern half of Arkansas, and flood warnings were issued at midday for much of southwestern and central Arkansas, including Little Rock.
Missouri had two days of freezing rain that caused power outages, contributed to several fires and turned roads into slick sheets.
The ice ripped down power lines, setting off several fires and leaving as many as 25,000 Springfield residents without power, heat or telephone service, said Kaylan Meier, a fire department supervisor.
The fire department had 400 calls between early Friday and early yesterday, Meier said. Firefighters were so swamped that they had to let some fires smolder.
There was only one large blaze, at a bank, but no one was injured.
In Joplin, in extreme southwest Missouri about 60 miles west of Springfield, up to one-quarter of the city was without power, said Randy Shellenbarger, a Joplin Police Department dispatcher.
Two inches of snow fell in two hours in southwest Kansas, and winter storm warnings were posted for south-central and southeastern Kansas and much of Oklahoma through last night. Winter storm warnings were also in effect for parts of northwest Texas.
Travel in Texas was hazardous as most roads in the northwestern part of the state were snowpacked. About three inches of snow was on the ground in Amarillo and El Paso.
In New Mexico, snow drifts of up to five feet were reported on Interstate 25 between Socorro and Truth or Consequences. Tucson got its first Christmas snow in 13 years.
Elsewhere, more than 2 1/2 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period at Huntington, W.Va., and California reported unseasonably cold temperatures for the second straight day.
It was 35 degrees in Los Angeles, tying a 106-year-old record and sending the homeless to emergency shelters. Freeze warnings were in effect for this morning for the coastal valleys of southern California and lower deserts of Arizona.
Helicopters hovered over orange groves to fend off the freeze in Fresno, Calif., but some growers reported moderate to heavy crop damage.
Much of the East had mild temperatures, while parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska had readings below zero.