Freezing rain, sleet and snow moved across the Midwest yesterday, and a tropical storm that soaked parts of dry California headed eastward.
Southern Indiana rivers swollen with melting snow and rain from a week ago continued to push out of their banks, and President Bush declared parts of the state a disaster area, making 11 counties eligible for extra federal relief money. Nearly every major river in the state had risen to flood stage last week.
Emergency crews in Hazleton, Ind., called for more volunteers to help sandbag the levee holding back the White River.
"We had all kinds of warning that this was coming on, so we're prepared," said Randy Peil, a board member in the southern Indiana town.
The river is expected to crest at 11 1/2 feet above flood stage today. More than 2,000 people across the state fled their homes last week, and more evacuees were expected as the White, Wabash and other rivers continued to rise.
Snow was falling yesterday in Illinois, and snow was forecast for Wisconsin and Michigan. The storm was expected to bring snow, sleet and freezing rain across the middle Mississippi Valley into the upper Great Lakes region.
An ice storm at dawn paralyzed St. Louis and closed Lambert-St. Louis airport. Police told people to stay off roads and interstates.
In Oklahoma, thousands of workers were sent home early Friday as roads iced up, resulting in three deaths in traffic accidents.
Southerly winds were pumping warmer air into Oklahoma early yesterday, but temperatures were expected to drop below freezing later and create a new layer of ice on roadways.
"Ice is the toughest challenge Mother Nature throws at us," said state Transportation Department spokesman Andy Oden. "Rain runs off, snow can be shoveled off, but ice is harder."
A 17-year-old girl was struck and killed in a traffic accident early yesterday in southern Illinois. She was hit by a car while pushing a disabled car off icy Interstate 55.
In Arkansas, two men and a woman missing since Tuesday died of exposure after they left their car for higher ground when it became stalled in water on a flooded road next to the Current River.
The nearly 3 inches of rain that fell in Southern California did little to make up for the region's rainfall deficit.
Rainfall totals since the front arrived late Wednesday averaged an inch in the coastal and valley areas to around 2 inches in the mountains, said meteorologist Bob Grebe of the National Weather Service.
The precipitation was "nice, but we need 20 times that. We need 19 more storms like this," said Terry Schaeffer, a weather service agricultural meteorologist in Santa Paula. "I'd rather see a deluge."