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At least 5 dead as the U.S. is battered by rain, snow and tornadoes

Thousands are in the dark as stormy weather covered most of the country Tuesday.
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At least five people were dead and hundreds of thousands were in the dark as stormy weather covered much of the country Tuesday.

Powerful storms charged across the country bringing snow, rain, wind, thunder or cold, sometimes in combination, to the Pacific Northwest, the Plains, the Gulf Coast, the South and the mid-Atlantic on Tuesday.

In all, 164 million people were under winter weather alerts from freeze warnings to tornado warnings. Large swaths of the country were under winter weather advisories — which alert residents to freezing rain and other possible hazards — or winter storm warnings, which precede a few inches or more of snow or sleet.

Even Hawaii was contending with messy weather, as the Maui County Emergency Management Agency said flash flooding was continuing and rain was coming down at times at 1 inch per hour. The agency said a high wind warning for the Big Island of Hawaii would remain in effect overnight.

People help push a vehicle back onto the road after it became stuck in the snow in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday.
People help push a vehicle back onto the road after it became stuck in the snow in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

More than 600,000 energy customers in a contiguous path from the tip of Florida to the top of New York state were without power early Tuesday evening, according to utility tracker

Multiple tornadoes were reported in Florida and South Carolina as the bottom of the cold storm clashed with warmer, wetter air to the south, creating a line of thunderstorms and high-wind vortexes, federal forecasters said.

Tornado watches and warnings extended from Florida to Virginia through 9 p.m.

A woman died Tuesday morning when an apparent tornado hit southern Houston County, Alabama, sources told WTVY-TV of Dothan, the sister station of NBC affiliate WRGX.

In Birmingham, roughly 200 miles north, someone in a vehicle died when a tree or a branch fell, Birmingham Fire and Rescue Capt. Orlando Reynolds said. Details, such as the exact time of the incident, were unavailable.

A person in suburban Atlanta died after a tree fell on a car in Clayton County on Tuesday morning.

In Catawba County, North Carolina, one person died and four other people were hospitalized when severe winds, possibly from a tornado, struck a mobile home park, damaging multiple residences, county officials said in a statement. Conditions of the injured were unavailable.

Authorities in Missouri said a 17-year-old female driver from Rolla was killed Tuesday evening after she lost control of the car, struck a portion of the overpass, and then was hit by a tractor-trailer.

The crash was the result of icy roads, Missouri State Highway Patrol said. An 18-year-old female passenger suffered serious injuries.

County officials said 30 residents have been displaced by the severe weather.

Storm damage around Panama City Beach, Fla., in Bay County, early Tuesday.
Storm damage around Panama City Beach, Fla., in Bay County, early Tuesday. Bay County Sheriff's Office / via AP

The National Weather Service said it would send storm survey teams to two locations in South Carolina on Wednesday to confirm two reported tornadoes.

One, which touched down just south of the town of Bamberg and then ripped along Main Street, was all but confirmed, with its signature showing up on radar, weather service meteorologist John Quagliariello said.

State Rep. Justin Bamberg, a Bamberg County Democrat, said on X that no injuries have been reported but that there was "very significant property damage" in the area.

Another tornado was reported west of the state capital, Columbia, near Lake Murray, Quagliariello said.

Thunderstorms will continue moving east as the storm envelops the mid-Atlantic, the Northeast and, eventually, New England, while snow and wind continue across the Midwest and the Great Lakes.

Much of the Midwest was snowy and blustery.

In Chicago, peak winter and wind impacts were expected overnight. The Chicago Aviation Department said at least 150 flights that would have used O'Hare or Midway international airports were canceled.

Schools were shut in several states and parts of two interstate highways were closed as more than a foot of snow landed on a huge area from southeastern Colorado to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

On Interstate 80, near Victor, Iowa, photos from the scene showed tractor-trailers and other vehicles collided Tuesday amid snowy, icy conditions.

The Pacific Northwest was the site of another west-to-east storm from the Pacific that could drop a foot of snow in Western mountain ranges, including the Cascades, the Northern Rockies and the Sierra Nevadas, federal forecasters said.

The weather service in Seattle issued a rare blizzard warning for Western Washington on Monday night, its first for the area since 2012, before whiteout conditions descended.

The state Transportation Department ordered all cars to have chains on deteriorating mountain roads, adding that “there’s no shame in asking yourself if you and/or your vehicle are prepared for blizzard conditions on a mountain pass.”

Blizzard conditions were expected along Alaska's coastline Wednesday, they said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Tuesday for 49 counties. Emergency services in Florida shared images of damaged buildings and broken power lines after a tornado made its way across Calhoun County and into Panama City.

At Orlando International Airport, high winds prompted officials to order a ground stop for flights through 7:30 p.m., airport officials said.

The nation’s capital will experience peak flood and wind impacts until 11 p.m. Tuesday, New York from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wednesday, and Boston from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Wednesday. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency across the state ahead of storms expected to cause heavy rain, high winds and flash flooding.

The state could get "one to four inches of heavy rain, strong winds, and potential inland and coastal flooding" Tuesday through Wednesday morning, he said.

The weather service in Mount Holly predicted that several rivers across northern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania could experience moderate to major flooding Tuesday night, as winds reach up to 65 mph.

Suffolk County in New York, which includes two-thirds of Long Island, declared a state of emergency ahead of 2 to 4 inches of rain and likely flash flooding.

New York City Emergency Management officials reminded residents about the weather service's high wind warning through Wednesday morning. Winds of 30 to 40 mph were expected, and 70 mph gusts were possible, it said.

A flash flood watch was in effect through noon Wednesday for the entire city, emergency management officials said.

They urged New York City drivers to stay off roadways, if possible, through Wednesday.