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Record storms mark start of new year

BY GEORGE PIPER | BALTIMORE | January 5, 1999

A violent weather pattern that produced blizzard conditions

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

flooding in Florida, will etch the first weekend in 1999 in the memories

millions of people across the U.S.

The deaths of at least 60 people have been attributed to the storms

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

weekends of the year.

Blizzard conditions were still being reported in Upper New York State

Monday, where more than a foot of snow closed the Buffalo airport and

created white-out conditions in nearby Watertown. As much as a foot of

additional snow could fall on Tuesday, according to forecasters.

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, sent water into more than 100 homes and

created a sinkhole in a section of the northbound lanes 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 several homes with 35 others sustaining

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

Chapter of the American Red Cross.

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, a ice storm on New Year's Day knocked out power to more than

100,000 customers statewide. Utility crews spent much of the weekend

restoring power, but more than 5,000 customers were still without

electricity Monday.

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, closing 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'Hare International 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.

Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, IN, hosted a giant slumber party during

the weekend for more than 500 people who were forced off nearby I-65.

Church officials said the impromptu guests, slept on the church's pews and

floors until the highways were reopened on Sunday.


Related Topics:

Staten Is. has grim Sandy aftermath

Massive power outage hits Mid-Atlantic

Deadly storms push across kentucky


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