NEW YORK — Much of the Northeast woke up Friday to temperatures in the 60s but with a forecast for a 40-degree drop by the end of the day — the product of a storm front moving east after a deadly run through California, the Midwest and the South.
By Friday morning, that front was already dumping heavy rain, producing severe thunderstorms and causing travel delays on roads and airports along the East Coast.
Rain drenched New York City, and 25 counties in the state were under a severe weather watch. Sharply colder weather was expected by Friday afternoon.
In Brainerd, Minn., the temperature hit 31 below zero Friday morning. Mobridge, S.D., bottomed out at 32 below, breaking the record for the date of minus 27 set in 1972, the National Weather Service said.
The chill was enough to put off an ice fishing contest and snowmobile drag races at the inaugural Frozen Lake Festival planned for the weekend in the central Minnesota town of Litchfield.
In the Southeast, high wind shattered a mobile home in Arlington, Ga., late Thursday, killing John and Dorris White. The National Weather Service reported a possible tornado.
Roofs blew off in Danville, Va., and power lines, wires and trees were reported down in Virginia, southeastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey. Milton, Mass., had wind gusts of more than 60 mph Friday.
Officials in Ohio welcomed the chillier temperatures as runoff from recent rains continued to overflow lakes and rivers, threatening to flood more homes and businesses.
The Ohio River was at more than 53 feet in Cincinnati on Friday, the highest point there in nearly eight years, and the water was still rising. Forecasters expected the river to crest Monday near 56 feet, 4 feet above flood stage.
The weather front spawned tornadoes in the South that claimed two lives in Arkansas on Thursday.
The two deaths, as well as 13 injuries, were reported in El Dorado, Ark. That tornado, with winds over 158 mph, was also a factor in a fatal small-plane crash, officials said.
“I thought I was going to meet the Lord,” Sherwood Thurlkill said after seeing his home in El Dorado destroyed. He told NBC News that he and his wife escaped minutes earlier when their daughter called to alert them to a tornado warning.
Frances Thurlkill said a camper parked near their home landed in the bedroom.
In Missouri, a moderate-strength tornado associated with a powerful storm touched down in south-central Missouri late Wednesday, leaving a quarter-mile-wide swath of damage about 18 miles long. No injuries were reported.
California cost at least $100 million
Earlier this week, the storm sytem caused flooding and mudslides in California, where 10 people died in a mudslide . Eighteen others died in storm-related accidents.
Storm damage cost the state more than $100 million in damage to homes, roads and farms, according to experts still tallying the bill.
Video: Mudslide warnings By Thursday, more than 14,500 home and flood insurance claims had been filed.
Rescuers organized an airlift to take food and medical supplies to about 135 people cut off for at least four days by flooding in the mountains above Los Angeles.
“It’s been tense around here. We’re running out of food, so when we get our food shipped in, it should keep the edge off things,” Lt. Tim Dowling, of the volunteer fire department in the stranded community of Follows Camp, said by cell phone.
The raging, storm-swollen San Gabriel River washed out three bridges around Follows Camp, tucked into a canyon in the rugged Angeles National Forest about 30 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
“We’re completely separated from the rest of the world,” Dowling said.
Southwest 'a big mess'
In the Southwest, many residents returned to homes damaged by storm-swollen creeks and rivers.
“We’ve just got a big mess to clean up,” said James Watkins of Overton, Nev. He spent a sun-splashed day watching a 300-foot expanse of churning brown water recede around his home.
Video: Southwest floods The heaviest flooding was in the area where Nevada, Arizona and Utah meet.
At least 18 homes were lost or condemned due to record flood waters along the Santa Clara River in Utah. About 100 families were reportedly displaced.
The Muddy River fanned out over ranches and farms, collapsed riverbanks near downtown Overton and forced an estimated 200 people to flee.
Authorities said flooding affected at least 100 homes, apartments and motor homes in Overton, a desert town of about 2,000 families 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. A police helicopter rescued five people Wednesday in the Overton area, including two children, when they became trapped by rising water.
NBC’s Ron Blome reported from El Dorado, Ark. The Associated Press contributed to this report.