Violent weather starts new year

BY GEORGE PIPER | BALTIMORE | January 3, 1999


A violent weather pattern this weekend that produced blizzard conditions

in the upper Midwest, ice in New England, tornadoes across the South and

flooding in Florida, will be etched in the memories thousands of people

across the U.S.

The deaths of at least two dozen people have been attributed to the storms

which closed airports and stranded travellers on one of the busiest travel

days of the year.

In Palm County FL, more than 31-inches of rain fell in just nine hours

Saturday, flooding homes and streets. The drenching rains, which surprised

even the weather forecasters, put almost 100 homes under water and washed

away a section of Interstate 95. A tornado ripped shingles from roofs and

snapped utility poles, but caused few injuries.

Other tornadoes were also reported in the Florida, Texas and Louisiana

Reports of four tornadoes on Saturday near Panama City in Bay County on

the Florida Panhandle destroyed two homes with 11 others sustaining major

damage, said Leah Reagan, disaster director for the Central Panhandle

Chapter of the American Red Cross. Another dozen homes and six businesses

had minor damage she added.

At least three twisters touched down Friday near Huntsville, Texas, located

about 75 miles north of Houston. Seven people were injured as winds

destroyed several mobile homes and damaged other structures in a sparsely

populated wooded patch of east Texas.

Other Texas counties reported tornado or funnel cloud sightings, according

to National Weather Service officials.

Southeast of Shreveport, La., a tornado and high winds also on Friday tore

roofs off of buildings, blew cars from the roads and scattered tree limbs.

No major injuries or damage were reported.

In Arkansas, an ice storm knocked out power to more than 100,000 customers

statewide. Utility crews spent much of the weekend restoring power, but

more than 25,000 customers were still without electricity Sunday.

While the south battled winds, people from the Dakotas through New

England were hit with one of the biggest snowstorms in more than three

decades that closed airports and highways.

The snowstorm, which brought frigid conditions, more than 22-inches of snow

and winds of more than 60 mph to the Chicago area, stranded thousands of

travelers. O'Hara Airport, the nation's busiest, cancelled most of its

flights Saturday and many flights were cancelled or delayed on Sunday.

Officials were suggesting travelers avoid the airport until Tuesday.

By Sunday, the storm spread ice on parts of the Northeast. Ice was blamed

for a 50-car pileup on New York's Grand Central Parkway, and 22 cars and a

truck were caught in a chain-reaction wreck on I-80 in New Jersey.

The weekend storms primarily brought rain to Virginia, where a Christmas

Eve ice storm knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of

residents. Emergency officials said Sunday that approximately 5,000

customers are still without power in the state.


Related Topics:

Staten Is. has grim Sandy aftermath

Massive power outage hits Mid-Atlantic

Deadly storms push across kentucky


More links on Storms

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