A major winter storm paralyzed the central Rocky Mountains and plains with blizzard conditions on Tuesday, while severe thunderstorms ahead of the snow caused tornadoes in the South that killed at least five people.
Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas were hit hard by the snowstorm Tuesday, and storm warnings were extended northeast to the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi Valley, weather officials said.
More than 20 inches of snow buried Mullen, Neb., and drifts 14 feet high covered western Nebraska. Drifts were measured at 10 feet in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"It's miserable," said Teresa Stevenson, a dispatcher at the Kimball County sheriff's office in Kimball, Neb., where more than a foot of snow was on the ground. "We've got right now between 14 and 20 inches. The town of Kimball is snowed in."
Roads, Schools Closed
Roads, schools and businesses across Nebraska and into northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and Kansas were closed, and authorities advised staying indoors. Visibility was zero in many spots. Blizzard or near-blizzard conditions were reported throughout the region. Schools in the Denver area also were closed.
The storm system produced severe thunderstorms in the lower Mississippi Valley that caused tornadoes in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, officials said.
Three people were killed in Fayette County, Tenn., when a twister tore through a mobile home neighborhood. Authorities blamed tornadoes for two other deaths in western Tennessee.
In southeastern Arkansas, 11 people were injured when a tornado struck near Crossett. The wind downed power lines and trees and severely damaged 41 houses, a spokesman for the state Office of Emergency Services said.
A tornado in Mississippi just south of the Tennessee line destroyed four houses and damaged 56 others in DeSoto County, authorities said. Civil Defense Director T. H. Walker said the twister derailed 11 cars of a freight train.