Monday, December 28, 2015

US death toll at 43 as wild weather tears across central states


Garland (United States) (AFP) - Texas reeled from rare December tornados Monday, as days of storms battering a vast region stretching from the southwestern US to Canada claimed at least 43 lives.

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Hundreds of flights across the area have been canceled, and with portions of major highways flooded, the storm system is wreaking havoc in holiday travel plans for millions of Americans.

The National Weather Service is warning of blizzards, freezing rain and flash floods in the next days, all part of a powerful storm system fueled by unseasonably warm air that began in the deep south last Wednesday.

The NWS said Monday that 21 states -- from New Mexico to as far north as Michigan -- are under a weather watch or warning as part of the storm system.

The governors of New Mexico, Texas and Missouri declared states of emergency for all or parts of their states to handle storm damage on Sunday. Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia earlier took similar measures.

- Texas tornados kill 11-

At least 11 people were killed as tornadoes struck the heavily populated Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in Texas, according to authorities who searched house-to-house Sunday for additional victims.

View galleryAuthorities were conducting house to house searches …
Authorities were conducting house to house searches for survivors in Rowlett, Texas after at least 1 …
The rare December twisters flattened homes and knocked cars off of highways. The NWS said that at least nine twisters touched down in the region late Saturday.

Hardest-hit was the Dallas suburb of Garland, where authorities confirmed eight fatalities after a tornado packing winds of up to 200 miles (320 kilometers) per hour bore down on the city.

City officials said this is only the second time since 1950 that such a powerful tornado struck the area.

Aerial footage showed rows of flattened homes, while others had roofs blown off and windows shattered. Some 600 buildings were damaged or destroyed, officials said.

"We're going to look at every house and every car to try to make sure we find everybody," Garland Mayor Douglas Athas told CNN.

Tornados are common in the US midwest in the spring, but rare during winter.

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