WASHINGTON • The US has found itself in the grip of unseasonable weather,with deadly consequences in the South as tornados ripped through several states, killing a number of people and leaving scores of others injured.
Much of the US East Coast basked in unseasonable warmth on Christmas Day, with record high temperatures set or tied in several cities, including New York, even as a major winter storm loomed for the southern Rockies and Great Plains.
Temperatures in New York's iconic Central Park peaked at 22 deg C last Thursday, the warmest Christmas Eve since records began in 1871. The park set a Christmas Day record with 19 deg C temperatures.
Atlanta in Georgia was also expected to set a record, with temperature of 24 deg C. Temperatures around Washington, DC, were a few degrees shy of record highs.
The opposite was happening in other areas of the country. "Ho Ho Ho! Vegas got snow!" reported the National Weather Service from normally balmier Las Vegas.
Elsewhere, rescue workers and heartbroken residents sifted through what was left of homes wiped out by ferocious storms and tornadoes that killed at least 14 people in the south-east.
The storms, feeding on unseasonably warm air, left a trail of destruction in rural communities from Alabama to Illinois.
Meanwhile, a powerful winter storm was forming across the southern Rockies and Plains, threatening blizzard conditions for parts of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma yesterday, forecasters said. Up to 61cm of snow was possible in areas of New Mexico and north Texas.
A separate storm in California's Sierra Nevada brought welcome relief to ski resorts struggling through a four-year drought that has left the mountain snowpack badly depleted.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS