Winter storms reign weekend havoc

Ice storm, tornadoes, flooding, make life miserable across country

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | BALTIMORE | December 26, 2009


A major ice storm brought down trees and power lines Friday, cutting power to thousands of western NC residents.
Credit: Kate Seufer

Severe weather continued to batter the Central and Eastern U.S. this weekend, causing blizzard warnings from Kansas to the Dakotas, a devastating ice storm in North Carolina and flash flooding in along the Mid-Atlantic Coast.

Damage from an ice storm west of Charlotte Friday, is being compared to Hurricane Hugo which hit the state in 1989.

Nearly 15,000 customers in Ashe and Watauga Counties were still without power Saturday night. It may be Tuesday before all power is restored, according to a spokesperson with Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation.

The electric company has had to bring in bulldozers and other heavy equipment from outside the region to clear trees and other debris created by the ice storm.

Nearly an inch and a half of rain fell Friday and Saturday along the mid-Atlantic coast, hastening the melting of last weekend's record snow and producing numerous reports of basement and localized flooding.

Nearly a foot of snow was reported in the Chicago area Saturday, canceling hundreds of airline flights while almost 20-inches was reported in the Dakotas, snarling highway traffic.

Meanwhile, residents in Texas and southern Louisiana continued to clean up after deadly tornadoes struck Wednesday and Thursday. St. Peter’s Resurrection Catholic Church in Whiteville, LA, was destroyed and one person was killed Thursday in Scott, LA, when an outbreak of at least eight tornadoes and high winds blew blew down trees.

Tornadoes destroyed or damaged dozens of other homes in the southern Louisiana towns of Crowley, Acadia and Gueydan, LA.

On Wednesday, an EF3 tornado with 130-mph winds, destroyed several buildings in the business district of Lufkin, TX and damaged some nearby homes.

In Oklahoma Friday, the National Guard and other emergency workers rescued motorists stranded by the storm. More than a dozen churches opened their doors on Christmas Eve to become impromtu shelters.

In West Virginia, nearly 15,000 customers were still without electricity Saturday night. Local fire companies and other first responders have been delivering emergency supplies to residents.


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