Storms blow south then roll east; 10 deaths were reported

A major storm system targeted the Northeast on Friday, threatening heavy snow and coastal flooding, damaging homes and buildings from strong winds and possible tornadoes, leaving thousands without power and causing 10 deaths in the South and Midwest.

Three people died in Alabama after falling trees due to severe weather. In Mississippi, a woman died after her SUV hit a rotten tree branch, and in Arkansas, a man died after being swept away by heavy flooding. Two dead after falling trees in Tennessee, reports say

Three weather-related deaths were reported in three different counties in Kentucky as storms moved through the state with straight-line winds. Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency before the storm, and Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg followed suit Friday evening due to severe storms, high winds, widespread damage and danger to life and property.

“I encourage everyone in our community to exercise extreme caution this evening, and in the coming days – not to drive through standing water, approach downed power lines, or do anything that puts anyone’s life at risk.” Greenberg said in a Facebook post.

The National Weather Service in Louisville called Friday’s storm “powerful and historic,” with peak winds between 60-80 mph (96-128 kph).

More than a million utility customers in Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan were without power Friday evening, according to poweroutage.us.

The storm swept into the Detroit area Friday afternoon, quickly closing streets and roads under a blanket of snow. The weather service said some areas could see blizzard conditions with snowfall of up to 3 inches (8 centimeters) per hour. Detroit Metropolitan Airport was closed Friday evening due to rapidly deteriorating weather.

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Detroit-based DTE Energy reported more than 130,000 customers lost power Friday evening. This is the latest room since last week’s snow storms More than 600,000 homes and businesses were without power.

The National Weather Service said heavy snow Friday afternoon caused poor road conditions and numerous vehicle accidents across much of northwest Indiana.

The storm system turned toward New England, where a mix of snow, ice and rain is expected to begin Friday night and continue into Saturday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a winter storm warning.

Coastal flooding is possible in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and the storm could bring up to 18 inches (45 centimeters) of snow to parts of New Hampshire and Maine. The storm will also bring strong winds that could cause power outages.

Airport officials in Portland, Maine, canceled several flights Saturday ahead of the weather and some libraries and businesses in the region announced weekend closings. However, most New Englanders braved the storm as warmer weather is expected to return by the weekend.

It’s not the same story in California, where a weather system slammed the state earlier in the week with 10 feet (3 meters) of snow. Some residents of the mountains east of Los Angeles will be stuck in their homes for at least another week after the snow proved too much for most plows to handle.

Many residents in Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas found their homes and businesses damaged and trees down on Friday. Tens of thousands were left without electricity, and some without water.

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In Talladega County, Alabama, a 70-year-old man was killed in his truck after a tree fell on his vehicle. A 43-year-old man in Lauderdale County and a man in Huntsville were killed by falling trees on Friday, local officials said.

In Texas, winds toppled trees, tore off the roof of a grocery store in Little Elm, north of Dallas, and overturned four 18-wheelers. Police said the injuries were minor.

Winds reached nearly 80 mph (130 km/h) near Blue Mountain, a Fort Worth suburb. The roof was blown off an apartment building in suburban Hurst, resident Michael Roberts told KDFW-TV.

“The whole building started shaking. … The whole roof is gone,” Roberts said. “It’s been really crazy.”

Heavy rain also fell in parts of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, causing flooding in both states.

In Southwest Arkansas, Betty Andrews told KSLA-TV She and her husband took shelter in the bathroom of their mobile home when a tornado moved through.

“It was so scary. I opened the front door to look outside. I grabbed Kevin and got in the bathtub,” Andrews said. “We huddled downstairs and I said some prayers until it passed.”

They were fine, but the house sustained extensive damage and the couple was temporarily trapped in the bathroom until a neighbor cleared the debris from outside the door.

The weather service said the Midwest, Minnesota and other parts of Wisconsin will see freezing fog with visibility of less than a quarter mile through the weekend. In North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, highways could see up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow and 45 mph (72 km/h) wind gusts Sunday and Monday.

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Associated Press writers Kimberly Chandler, Montgomery, Alabama, who contributed to this report; Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska; Corey Williams in Detroit; Mark Pratt in Boston; Sewell Johnson in New Orleans; Trisha Ahmed in St. Paul, Minnesota; Emily Waxter Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; Dylan Lowen in Louisville, Kentucky; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington.

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