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Storms slam Plains, South

A major snowstorm blankets the central U.S., while the southern portion of the storm brings high winds and possible tornadoes, causing extensive damage in southern Arkansas.


A series of storms - believed to be tornadoes - ripped through this southern Arkansas town Saturday, destroying homes and businesses and injuring more than two dozen people.

Across the central U.S., meantime, the weather system caused white-out conditions and dumped heavy snow. Up to two feet of snow was forecast by early Monday for parts of Minnesota and lower Michigan. The storm was blamed for seven traffic deaths in Wisconsin, where up to 16 inches of snow had fallen by Saturday afternoon with another eight to 15 inches forecast on the way. The white-out conditions were blamed for a pile-up involving nearly three dozen vehicles on Interstate 70 in Colorado. Wind gusts of 68 mph were reported in Denver.

More than 100,000 people were without power in Iowa, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Tornado warnings were in effect Saturday night for parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. Thunderstorms across western Tennessee, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle could spawn more tornadoes, forecasters warned.

Meantime, the mid-Atlantic braced for a major ice storm.

In Dumas, the storms left a five-mile-long, half-mile-wide path of destruction. A second storm, also believed to be a tornado, struck the town an hour later. Twenty-seven people were reported injured, three critically. Power was reported out in the area.

A curfew was in effect in the town until 7 a.m. Sunday after looting broke out following the storm. The Arkansas National Guard was asked to send units to the town.

Blizzard and heavy snow warnings were posted Saturday for parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. The harsh conditions closed parts of Interstates 70 and 80 in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Kansas. State officials urged residents to stay off the roads because of high winds and drifting snow.

The southern section of the storm brought tornado warnings and high winds to parts of Oklahoma and north Texas overnight Friday.

Flooding is possible in some parts of Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. Ice jams in local rivers caused some isolated flooding in eastern Nebraska overnight Thursday. Local officials warned residents of more possible flooding over the weekend.

The storm will continue its move east and bring rain, freezing rain and sleet to the East Coast. Parts of New England will get snow, but forecasters are not calling for a Nor'easter to develop from the storm.

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