Slow-moving storms unleash tornadoes in US east, record snow in Midwest

A woman walks in the snow during a winter nor'easter storm in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US on March 21, 2018.
A woman walks in the snow during a winter nor'easter storm in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US on March 21, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

ATLANTA (REUTERS) - Deadly slow-moving storms generated record or near-record snowfall and low temperatures in the US Midwest and tornadoes further east on Sunday (April 15), leaving airline travellers stranded and thousands without power.

In Michigan, where snowfall was expected to reach 46cm in some areas, about 310,000 homes and businesses were without power because of an ice storm, most of them in the south-east of the state.

Large areas of Detroit were without power and customers were not expected to have it back on Sunday night, utility DTE Energy said.

It was working to have 90 per cent of outages restored by Tuesday, DTE spokeswoman Carly Getz said in a statement.

The weight of ice on power lines, coupled with high winds, caused more than 1,000 power lines to fall in Detroit and Wayne County, DTE said.

The worst of the snow was focused on the upper Great Lakes, with Green Bay, Wisconsin, seeing its second-largest snowstorm ever, with 60cm falling as of Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

For the twin cities of Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota, the April monthly record for snowfall of 55cm was surpassed on Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

Two tornadoes tore up trees and ripped apart homes in Greensboro and Reidsville, North Carolina, killing a motorist who was hit by a tree, according to Greensboro's city manager, local media reported.

The storms stretched from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest and were moving into the North-east and New England.

Record low temperatures for the date were expected in Oklahoma City on Monday at -1 deg C, and in Kansas City, Missouri, at -4 deg C.

On Friday, the weather system produced 17 reports of tornadoes in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas, with four people injured and 160 buildings damaged in a possible tornado in north-west Arkansas, local media reported.

The weather was blamed for two traffic deaths in western Nebraska and Wisconsin, according to National Public Radio.

The storms also killed a one-year-old girl when a tree fell on a recreational vehicle where she was sleeping, the sheriff's office in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, said.

By Sunday night, 1,804 flights had been cancelled into or out of US airports, the website reported, including 148 flights in or out of the Minneapolis-St Paul airport.