Nightly News   |  December 21, 2013

Patch-work storm kicks off first day of winter

The northern plains and the Midwest are getting ice and heavy snow and  68 million are in the path of the storm. Meteorologist Mike Bettes reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> following. severe weather . we have the latest from meteorologist mike bettis. he's watching from mississippi.

>> good evening, lester. a footprint that spans much of the country. it's dishing out flooding rain, to ice to snow to tornadoes all to a nation that would rather focus on the upcoming holiday, a task that's proven to be very difficult today. the first day of winter arrived with a little bit of everything. the massive patch work storm slammed the northern plains and midwest with ice and heavy snow. in oklahoma, black ice on the roads made for treacherous driving. in washington, one reported dpet on i-90 after a ten-vehicle pile up crushed an suv between two semis.

>> i'm at that site which happened along i-90 west as washington state patrol put it, it is one tangled mess.

>> reporter: delaying traffic for hours. in arkansas and southern oklahoma, power lines knocked out leaving more than 140,000 customers in the dark. with 68 million people in the path of this storm, holiday travel has been difficult. more than 400 flights canceled just today and another 6200 delayed with half flying through chicago and dallas.

>> we were going to see family but we'll have to reschedule.

>> reporter: conditions couldn't be any more different in the northeast and south where cities registered record highs this afternoon. atlantic city , new jersey, hit 67 up from the previous record of 63. savannah, georgia, 81, up from 79 degrees.

>> it's so not what i'm used to for christmas.

>> it makes for a dangerous combination that has the region between at lexan dree a, louisiana, on high alert for tornadoes.

>> some could come at night. there could be strong tornadoes. its oo a situation that's ripe for danger.

>> reporter: tornado watches and warnings continue true the overnight. all of this, lester, for a storm that's affecting 35 different states.