HOUSTON (Texas) • Severe storms sweeping across southern portions of the United States and up into the Midwest have killed at least 11 people, including two first responders, as high winds, tornadoes and unrelenting rain battered large swathes of the country.
Storm-related fatalities were reported in Texas due to icy weather, in Alabama from a tornado and in Louisiana, where winds were so strong that a trailer home was lifted off its foundation and carried 60m.
A man drowned in Oklahoma and the storms even touched the Midwest, with at least one death on an icy highway in Iowa.
Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power from Texas to Ohio, and parts of highways were closed in Oklahoma and Arkansas due to flooding.
The storms, bringing the threat of ice and snow to the Chicago area, also prompted the cancellation of more than 1,200 flights last Saturday at Chicago's two main airports. Most of the cancellations occurred at O'Hare International, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation's online flight-tracking website.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson declared a state of emergency to assist crews working to restore power around the state.
Two first responders were killed and another was critically injured in Lubbock, Texas, last Saturday after they were hit by a vehicle while attending to a traffic accident in icy conditions, officials said.
The National Weather Service in Shreveport, Louisiana, said a tornado with winds of around 217kmh had touched down in Bossier Parish in the state. Footage taken by a drone showed smashed buildings, a large vehicle flipped on its side, toppled trees as well as debris scattered over a large area.
Many streams were already at or near flood levels because of earlier storms, and heavy rain could lead to flash flooding across the region, forecasters said. Parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana were under flash flood warnings or watches over the weekend.
The weather service issued a winter weather advisory, flood watch and lake-shore flood warning for the Chicago metropolitan area for Saturday and a winter storm warning for adjacent areas of north-western Illinois.