At least 10 people have died in several states due to severe weather across the country as a powerful storm system that brought golfball-sized hail and tornadoes to the south continued to march across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast late Friday.
The storm spurred gusts of wind strong enough to overturn semi-trucks, left more than 1 million people without power and brought more torrential rain, tornadoes and heavy snow.
The storm system is the same that blanketed parts of California in snow and left some trapped in their homes with snow piled as high as second-story windows and asked the governor to declare a state of emergency in 13 counties. Many of those affected are now preparing for another round of snow and rain on Saturday.
At least three Kentuckians were among the weather-related fatalities, Governor Andy Beshear confirmed Friday afternoon. A fourth Kentucky death has been reported in Lexington after a tree fell on a vehicle, killing a 41-year-old woman, the Fayette County Coroner’s Office told CNN — one of at least four U.S. deaths linked to fallen trees.
According to official figures, three other people died in Alabama, one in Arkansas, one in Mississippi and one in California.
More than 60 million people were at risk of severe storms Friday, and nearly 80 million people from Texas to Pennsylvania were under storm warnings, including nearly the entire state of Tennessee.
As of 1 a.m. ET Saturday, more than 1.2 million customers were without power in the seven hardest-hit states — Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Alabama, according to PowerOutage.us.
Destructive winds, isolated large hailstones and a few tornadoes were seen from southern Indiana through Kentucky and Tennessee to northeastern Alabama and northwestern Georgia. Regions faced an increased risk of severe storms, which could be more widespread and occasionally more intense.
As the storm pushes north, “it will produce a plume of heavy snow Friday and Saturday from the upper Midwest to New England,” according to the National Weather Service called. “Significant sleet and freezing rain are possible south of the heaviest snow.”
Up to a foot of snow could be seen in parts of New York and New England.
The storm could bring snow and ice to cities like Chicago and Detroit.
The Storm Prediction Center released a tornado watch for more than 8 million people in southwest Virginia, eastern Tennessee, western North and South Carolina, and northern Georgia as of 8 p.m. ET Friday. The clock included Birmingham in Alabama, Chattanooga and Knoxville in Tennessee, and Cartersville and Carrollton in Georgia.
The main threats include some tornadoes and isolated damaging wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour.
A “fast-paced [line of storms] will spread east-northeast from central Tennessee and northwest Alabama, with damaging winds and embedded tornadoes posing the primary hazards,” the storm center said.
A tornado was confirmed at 11:12 a.m. CT south of Reidland, Kentucky, moving northeast at 55 miles per hour.
Flash flood warnings stretched 400 miles across parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana.
Widespread amounts of rain have fallen in the area since Thursday evening of 3 to 5 inches, and 1 to 3 inches more are possible through Friday.
Meanwhile, flood warnings were also in effect for more than 20 million people from Arkansas to Ohio.
“Continued heavy rates of precipitation associated with showers and thunderstorms may also result in flash flooding in much of the middle Mississippi and Ohio valleys, stretching east into the mid-Atlantic,” the Weather Prediction Center said Friday morning.
In Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, Thursday’s storms damaged homes and businesses and caused flight disruptions at airports.
Six tornadoes were reported during Thursday’s storms, including five in Texas and one in Louisiana, which damaged dozens of homes in the city of Shreveport. There were 18 reports of hail across Texas and Oklahoma, with the largest reportedly measuring 1.75 inches in diameter, or about the size of a golf ball.
About 120,000 people in Texas were still without power as of early Friday, according to outage tracker PowerOutage.us, including about 8,000 people on the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro in Collin County, where winds were strong enough to blow four 18-wheel The police said parts of a highway should be closed a tweet.
Power has been restored to the medical facilities west of Fort Worth in Weatherford, Texas, where more than half the town was initially without power and many homes, businesses and City Hall were damaged, city spokesman Blake Rexroat said.
After a brief respite from consecutive winter storms that have brought unseasonably cold temperatures and triggered rare snowstorm warnings in parts of the state, Northern California is expecting another round of snow starting Saturday.
Until the end of the weekend, 1 to 5 Snow depths are possible in some northern areas, including the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
But many communities blanketed by the latest wave of snow have yet to recover as the snowfall blocked major roads, confining them to their homes and damaging essential businesses like grocery stores.
An 80-year-old woman, Lois Barton, died in a “weather-related” incident in Placer County, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Angela Musallam told CNN. She did not share the circumstances of the death, although there was heavy snowfall and temperatures near freezing on Tuesday where the incident occurred, CNN meteorologists said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom this week declared states of emergency in 13 counties, including hard-hit San Bernardino County, where the National Guard arrived Thursday to help rescue snowbound residents and shovel snow off streets and rooftops.
A string of building fires in San Bernardino County appear to be related to storms, the county fire department told CNN. The department said the number of fires was “atypical” but didn’t give an exact number.
Fire Chief Dan Munsey says gas leaks are believed to be responsible for several home fires in the mountain communities. Many of them are in areas with impassable roads. Firefighters respond to houses with snow cats, often dragging themselves in on foot with shovels and hoses, digging fire hydrants out of the snow to put out blazes, Munsey said.
CNN has reached out to Southern California Gas Co., a major player in the region, over reports of gas leaks.
In the San Bernardino community of Crestline, residents were immobilized by the extensive snowfall and began to worry about access to supplies, as their only local grocery store was closed after its roof collapsed from heavy snowfall, resident Paul Solo said to CNN.
Emergency teams are still scouring the snow-capped mountains to clear roads and reach outlying residents with food and supplies.
Rescuers are being provided with ready-to-eat meals to distribute to those who cannot get food, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said in a news conference Friday. First responders will set up food distribution points and a convoy carrying groceries and other supplies to restock supermarkets will be escorted up the mountain, he added.
Nearly 100 inches of snow has fallen on Crestline and nearby Lake Arrowhead in the past few days. Aerial footage from CNN affiliate KCAL shows neighborhoods with unrecognizable streets and homes with snow piled up to second-story windows.
The only way to get around is to dig up sidewalks for emergency exits, Solo said. He added, “Everybody shoveled every day, and then it snows another foot and a half.”
Solo believes it could be another week or two before the snow clears.
“Until then, we are trapped in our house. We couldn’t even leave if we wanted to.”