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1st-5th…More wet weather activity developed in the Pacific Northwest and the northern half of California Wednesday as a trough of low pressure remained anchored off the Pacific Northwest Coast. Significant moisture coupled with a cold front that pushed across the Coast this morning and brought periods of rain and moderate high elevation snow showers to areas from western Washington to parts of central California. In addition to rain and snow, strong winds accompanied the disturbance across the region with gusts up to 45 mph in the lower elevations ad gusts up to 55 mph in the higher, wind prone elevations. This lead to periods of blowing and drifting snow with reduced visibilities in the northern Sierra Nevadas and the central to northern Cascades. Wind Advisories remained in effect for the central valley of California through the afternoon. In the East, the passing of a cold front brought scattered snow showers, flurries, and rain to parts of New York and Pennsylvania through Massachusetts. A snow squall brought brief heavy snow rates and light snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches to areas of northern Maine. To the south, cooler temperatures and increased cloud cover lingered over southern Florida as a cold front dropped southeastward. Widely dispersed showers continued in the nearby Atlantic waters through the afternoon. Only a few showers reached the coastal zone.
A tornado slammed a southwestern Louisiana town Saturday, killing a woman and injuring 11 other people. More than 100 homes were damaged, many of them destroyed, authorities said, and about 1,500 people were evacuated because of natural gas leaks. The 21-year-old woman was killed when a tree fell on her house, said Maxine Trahan, a spokeswoman for the Acadia Parish sheriff. Debris was littered throughout Rayne, a town of about 8,500 people, after a line of violent thunderstorms moved through the area and left behind a swath of damage about a quarter of a mile wide to three miles long. Pieces of homes were strewn about the tops of trees, and power lines were down. A U.S. Postal Service truck was flipped on to its side. Trahan said the natural gas leaks, which were later fixed, delayed authorities trying to count how many homes and businesses were damaged. About 1,500 people were ordered out of the area for the night, she said, because officials feared more gas leaks could occur. A temporary shelter was set up at a fire station and officials were working to find other shelters. "There are houses off their foundations," said State Police Trooper Stephen Hammons. "There are houses that have been destroyed." The National Weather Service sent a team to investigate and confirmed a tornado had struck the area. The system that hit Rayne quickly moved east and drenched New Orleans, where several Mardi Gras parades either were delayed, started earlier or canceled because of the severe weather.
6th-12th…Wet weather diminished across the West Coast, as a system moved eastward into the Rockies on Monday. The system that brought heavy rain to the Pacific Northwest and northern California has continued kicking up showers as it swept through the Great Basin and Central Rockies. Further east, a strong low pressure system pushed a cold front offshore of the East Coast. This system lingered over the extreme Northeast and kicked up periods of heavy snow showers. Snowfall accumulation ranged from 2 to 4 inches from upstate New York to Maine. Heavy rain caused flooding problems just to the south, across Connecticut and Massachusetts, with rainfall totals around 1.50 inches.
A severe weather system that trudged across the Southeast Wednesday tore roofs off buildings, overturned cars and caused a house fire that killed a woman. Two apparent tornadoes damaged buildings and caused minor injuries near Mobile in southwest Alabama, hours after several tornadoes were reported to the west in Louisiana. A woman died in a house fire in Mississippi that authorities believe was caused by lightning. Alabama and Louisiana's governors declared states of emergency, which allows them to request federal help in responding to the storms. Far to the north, New Jersey's governor also made an emergency declaration for parts of the state to allow the National Guard and state police to prepare for expected flooding from the storm system. The National Weather service issued a flood warning in several counties where heavy rain was expected Thursday. Alabama authorities said only minor injuries were reported despite the destruction there. "It's very fortunate judging from the extent of some of the damage," said John Kilcullen, operations director for the Mobile County Emergency Management Agency. Ambulances, police cars and fire trucks with flashing lights descended on the Theodore area near Mobile after the storm struck about 8:45 a.m. CST, overturning vehicles, nearly demolishing a gas station, knocking down power lines and causing ammonia and natural gas leaks. Evelyn Thibeault said she saw a twister go by her business, Theodore Mail Ship and More. "My front door flew open and a plant flew across the floor. Everything just turned white. BP is just gone. It's horrible," said Thibeault, breathing hard during a telephone interview. "It hit a hardware store, a little country music place they have. We're all still nervous and shook up." Later, across Mobile Bay in Baldwin County, a possible tornado damaged several homes and businesses in Silverhill. Torrential rains caused flooding across a wide area of the state, and damage was reported in 17 counties by midday. At least three tornadoes touched down in southeastern Louisiana on the heels of Mardi Gras season, which ended Tuesday night. A twister that hit Bush damaged a car, truck, home and trailer and left a woman with a cut on her head, officials said. Severe weather flips cars, rips roofs in Southeast The National Weather Service also reported tornadoes in Kenner, where no damage was reported, and around Lacombe, where a roof was torn off a house. In the village of Tangipahoa, authorities used boats and pickup trucks to evacuate a mobile home park after heavy rains caused a creek to overflow its banks, flooding about 20 to 30 homes. About 130 people were displaced, with 19 spending the night in a shelter, said Tangipahoa Parish spokesman Jeff McKneely. Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said a woman died and her husband was injured in a Yazoo County house fire that authorities believe was caused by lightning. "They have to investigate it," Flynn said. "The lady has an autopsy scheduled, but that is the initial belief, that the house was hit by lightening." Wind and flooding also damaged homes and buildings. Flash flood warnings were in effect in southeast Mississippi, and roads in several counties were flooded. "Flooding is going to persist in some areas for a few days as water filters down into the larger rivers and waterways," said Daniel Lamb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson. A thunderstorm in eastern Tennessee tore a section of roof from Camp Creek Elementary School on Wednesday morning, The Greeneville Sun reported. No injuries were reported and there were no children at the school yet.
Wet and snowy weather persisted across the East on Thursday, while wet weather returned to the West. A strong low pressure system and associated cold front that brought severe weather to the Southeast on Wednesday has made its way eastward. The front extended from New England, down the East Coast, and wrapped around westward over Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. The front brought periods of heavy rain with a mid-day total of 2.25 inches reported in Baltimore, Maryland, while Middletown, Pennsylvania reported 1.59 inches of rain. Strong winds associated with severe thunderstorms produced tornadoes across southeastern Florida. A brief tornado touchdown was observed in a parking lot at Fort Lauderdale Airport, Florida and a funnel cloud touched down near Highway 1 in Key Biscayne, Florida.
13th-19th…The central U.S. saw active weather on Monday, with heavy rain in the South and periods of heavy snow in the Midwest. A strong low pressure system moved from the Southern Plains and up the Ohio River Valley. Flow around the system created a warm front that stretched into the Northeast, while a cold front extended southward to the Gulf of Mexico. Heavy rain and strong winds developed along the cold front as it quickly tracked over eastern Texas and into the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Houston Hull, Texas reported a mid-day total of 1.32 inches of rain, while wind gusts around the region reached up to 25 mph. To the north, the warm front that extended from Missouri and stretched over Kentucky and into the Virginias also triggered heavy rain. The greatest rainfall total from this front was reported in Carbondale, Illinois, with a mid-day total of 1.63 inches. Just to the north of this warm front, cold temperatures allowed for periods of heavy snow to develop. Summerfield, Illinois saw snowfall rates up to a half of an inch per hour, with mid-day totals in western Illinois and northern Missouri between 2 and 5 inches of new snow.
20th-26th…More active weather developed in the Eastern Valleys Wednesday, while another Pacific storm soaked California. In the East, the strong storm system that produced severe weather in the Mid-Mississippi Valley moved into the Ohio Valley today. Modest moist flow ahead of an associated energetic cold front that extended from eastern Illinois to southwestern Texas triggered areas of rain and thunderstorms from the southern regions of Indiana and Ohio through parts of Tennessee. Meanwhile, to the north, a warm front associated with this storm system lifted through the northern Ohio Valley and triggered snow showers from eastern Wisconsin through southern New England. Bands of snow continued to diminish southern Minnesota through central Wisconsin through the afternoon. In the West, another Pacific front moved across the California coast this afternoon. Strong, moist, onshore flow accompanied this front and streamed across the coastal areas and the Sierra Nevadas. This translated into more rain and mountain snow in the already saturated areas of northern and central California. Risks of runoff lead to possible flooding of roads and low lying areas as well as some rises in creeks, streams and rivers in the central and northern valleys.
27th-31st…A low pressure system moved off the Rockies and into the Plains, while a cold air mass lingered over the Central U.S. on Monday. Additionally, flow around the low pulled moisture northward from the Gulf of Mexico. This combination of weather features allowed for scattered snow showers to develop from Nebraska to North Dakota. Flow around this system pushed moisture well into the Northern and Central Rockies. Mountain snow developed across southern Idaho, northern Utah, and western Colorado. Snowfall accumulation ranged from 2 to 10 inches in Colorado, up to 7 inches in Utah, and from 3 to 6 inches in Idaho. The Northern Plains saw near 2 inches of new snow.
Severe weather tore across central Florida on Thursday, causing damage and spawning an apparent tornado in Tampa, the National Weather Service said. A heavy storm with strong winds hit the Sun 'n Fun aviation fair at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, causing "extensive minor damage and reports of minor injuries," but "all persons so far have been accounted for," said Sgt. Terri Smith of the Lakeland Police Department.
The National Weather Service had reported a building collapse that trapped 70 people at the airport, but that report was false, Smith said.
The Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In & Expo is a six-day aviation-themed festival that provides the primary source of funding for Sun 'n Fun, a nonprofit organization, and its wholly owned subsidiary, the Florida Air Museum. Greg Lane, a Sun 'n Fun volunteer who is working with a low-power AM radio station at the airport, said the "sky went from gray to black to bluish green" as the storm rolled in. The state's emergency management office said it has deployed personnel to the airport and is monitoring the situation, according to spokeswoman Melanie Motiska. In Tampa, meanwhile, an apparent tornado touched down, and parts of Hillsborough County were under a tornado warning that the weather service issued at 11:51 a.m. The warning covered parts of Hillsborough and Polk counties.
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said there has been some damage to residences and businesses in the city as a result of "very, very severe weather."
However, she said, there have been no injuries, and "I think we're faring well." She said trees, including huge oaks, have been upended and power lines have been downed. The fire department has been at the scene of every structural damage incident, Iorio said. She added that there might be more severe damage outside the city. Iorio added that since Wednesday, media reports had warned residents that "today's the day to stay inside" because of bad weather. "It's going to be a big system for the rest of the day," said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, referring to the low-pressure system and cold front that developed over the Gulf of Mexico and moved east across Florida. "You need to get inside your home and away from the glass." The storm damaged about 25 homes in Hillsborough County, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings have been issued across north and central Florida and will remain in effect until 8 p.m. ET, emergency spokeswoman Motiska said. Additional strong to severe thunderstorms with damaging winds, hail, heavy rain, lightning and isolated tornadoes are also possible through the evening. A photo on the website of Bay News 9 showed an overturned small airplane at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport. The affiliate also broadcast images of damaged street signs and billboards as high winds swept through the area.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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