A massive storm blowing across the country spawned tornadoes in parts North Texas and Oklahoma Tuesday while much of the central United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest braced for storms and blizzard-like conditions.
The line of thunderstorms that moved across North Texas in the early morning hours brought tornadoes, damaging winds, hail and heavy rain, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Bradshaw. Authorities on Tuesday morning reported that dozens of homes and businesses were damaged and several people injured.
Bradshaw said there was likely a tornado touchdown in Grapevine, where two or three businesses were damaged and some homes as well.
In nearby North Richland Hills, about 20 homes and businesses were damaged in the storm, North Richland Hills police said. Photos sent by the police department showed a home without a roof, a tree that had been split in half and an overturned vehicle in a parking lot.
There were multiple reports of damage to homes and businesses near Decatur, about 70 miles northwest of Dallas, the Wise County Office of Emergency Management said. The office of emergency management said one person was injured from flying debris while traveling in their vehicle and the other was injured when their vehicle overturned due to high winds. One person was taken to the hospital and the other was treated at the scene.
Bradshaw said it’s believed a tornado caused the damage south of Decatur.
Meanwhile, damage was reported in the Oklahoma town of Wayne after the weather service warned of a “confirmed tornado” shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday. There were no deaths or injuries due to the tornado, McClain County Sheriff’s Capt. Bryan Murrell said. But as authorities began assessing its impact Tuesday morning, it was clear there was widespread damage to Wayne, which is about 45 miles south of Oklahoma City.
Elsewhere in the U.S., an area stretching from Montana into western Nebraska and Colorado was under blizzard warnings, and the National Weather Service said that as much as 2 feet of snow was possible in some areas of western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska. Ice and sleet were expected in the eastern Great Plains.
In parts of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, the National Weather Service warned that up to about half an inch of ice could form and winds could gust up to 45 mph. Power outages, tree damage, falling branches and hazardous travel conditions all threatened the region.
All of western Nebraska was under a blizzard warning from Tuesday through Thursday, and the National Weather Services said up to 20 inches of snow was expected in the northwest. Winds of more than 50 mph at times will make it impossible to see outdoors, officials said.
A 200-mile stretch of Interstate 90 across western South Dakota was closed Tuesday morning due to “freezing rain, heavy snow, and high winds,” the state’s Department of Transportation said. Interstate 29 was also expected to close and secondary highways will likely become “impassable,” the department said.
The storm system was expected to move into the Northeast and central Appalachians with snow and freezing rain by late Wednesday, forecasters said. The severe weather threat also continues into Wednesday for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
“It will be a busy week while this system moves across the country,” said Marc Chenard, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s headquarters in Maryland.
The weather is part of the same system that dumped heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada over the weekend before moving east.