27 Dec 2012

Thousand freeze as storm heads for New York

10:29 pm on 27 December 2012

A large storm system making its way across the United States is wreaking havoc.

Thousands of people are without electricity in freezing temperatures, and hundreds of flights have been cancelled, CNN reports.

The severe winter storm whipped up tornadoes in the southern US, dropped heavy snow in the Midwest and now threatens disruption in the east.

At least six people have been killed and authorities have told people to stay at home rather than brave freezing temperatures and treacherous roads.

A state of emergency has been declared in Mississippi and Alabama after the storm downed power lines.

More than 200,000 people are said to be without power.

Hundreds of flights have been grounded by snow and blizzards.

More delays are expected as the storm moves towards New York state and Maine, where as much as 46cm of snow is expected to fall.

The National Weather Service has warned of near-zero visibility in Buffalo, New York, where heavy snowfall is predicted to combine with high winds.

Weather warnings are in place from Florida and the Gulf Coast all the way up to New England.

Little Rock, Arkansas, saw its first snow on Christmas Day in 83 years, while in neighbouring Oklahoma seven inches of snow was blamed for a 21-vehicle pile-up on an interstate highway outside Oklahoma City.

Thirty-four tornadoes were reported in the southern states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday. A large section of a church roof in Mobile, Alabama, was ripped off by a twister.

Falling trees claimed the lives of two people in Texas and Louisiana. Deaths were also reported on the roads in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Two children were killed after their mother lost control of her vehicle on an icy road in Arkansas on Christmas Day, the state police said.

Another person was killed in the state early on Boxing Day as a result of the storm, the Arkansas emergency management service said.

A dozen people were hurt in a 21-vehicle pile-up caused by icy roads in Oklahoma City.

Two women were killed in separate crashes in the state on Christmas Day, the state highway patrol said.

A man was killed in rural Louisiana when a tree hit his home on Christmas Day, and a Texas man died in similar circumstances in a Houston suburb, local media reported.