SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota ( Associated Press) — The central United States faced harsh winter conditions Tuesday, while the South was hit with tornadoes spawned by a massive storm across the country.
Officials issued watches for a wide swath from Montana to Nebraska and Colorado, and the National Weather Service forecast up to 2 feet (61 cm) of snow in western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska. In addition, snowfall and hailstorm are forecast over the vast central plains.
The National Weather Service predicted about half an inch (2.5 cm) of snow and winds of up to 45 mph (72 kph) in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. Blackouts, downed trees and slippery roads are a threat to the area.
“This storm is no joke,” the South Dakota Department of Public Safety said in a tweet, urging citizens to stock up on basics and stay home.
Portions of Interstate 90 and Interstate 29 in South Dakota are expected to be closed by authorities due to “freezing rain, high snow levels, drifting snow, low visibility and high winds,” the state Department of Transportation said. It added that many secondary roads would become “impassable”.
Farther south, tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flooding were expected in eastern Texas, parts of Louisiana, and western Mississippi. Officials issued a Tornado Watch Tuesday morning for parts of central Oklahoma and northern Texas.
Damage was reported in the Oklahoma city of Wayne after the weather service issued a “confirmed tornado” warning shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday. Oklahoma KOCO television showed footage of heavy damage to a home in Wayne, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Oklahoma City.