At least 10 people are dead as severe storms sweep across the country

Storm Texas
Posted at 7:26 AM, Mar 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-04 15:54:30-05

(CNN) — At least 10 people have died in multiple states due to severe weather across the country as a powerful storm system that brought golf ball-sized hail and tornadoes to the South continues to march late Friday across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

The storm spurred wind gusts strong enough to topple tractor-trailer trucks, leaving more than 1 million people without power and threatening to bring more torrential rain, tornadoes and heavy snow.

The storm system is the same that dumped feet of snow across parts of California, leaving some trapped in their homes with snow piled as high as second-story windows and prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency in 13 counties. Many of those affected are now bracing for another round of snow and rain on Saturday.

Among those killed due to weather were at least three Kentuckians, Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed Friday afternoon. A fourth death in Kentucky was reported in Lexington after a tree fell onto a vehicle, killing a 41-year-old woman, the Fayette County coroner's office tells CNN -- one of at least four deaths in the US related to fallen trees.

Three other people died in Alabama, one in Arkansas, one in Mississippi, and one in California, according to officials.

More than 60 million people were under a threat of severe storms Friday, and nearly 80 million people from Texas to Pennsylvania were under high wind alerts, including almost the entire state of Tennessee.

According to, more than 1.2 million customers were without power in the seven most affected states as 1 a.m. ET Saturday -- Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Alabama.

Damaging winds, isolated large hail and a few tornadoes could be seen from southern Indiana through Kentucky and Tennessee and into northeastern Alabama and northwestern Georgia. The regions were under an enhanced risk for severe storms that could be more widespread and occasionally intense.

As the storm pushes northward, it "will produce a swath of heavy snow from the Upper Midwest through New England Friday and Saturday," the National Weather Service said. "Significant sleet and freezing rain is possible just south of the heaviest snow."

As much as a foot of snow could be seen in parts of New York and New England.

The storm could bring snow and ice to cities including Chicago and Detroit.

Weather brings tornado watch, flood warnings

The Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch for more than 8 million people across southwest Virginia, eastern Tennessee, western North and South Carolina and northern Georgia until 8 p.m. ET Friday. The watch included Birmingham in Alabama, Chattanooga and Knoxville in Tennessee, and Cartersville and Carrollton in Georgia.

The main threats include a few tornadoes and scattered damaging wind gusts up to 75 mph.

A "fast-moving [line of storms] will spread east-northeast from middle Tennessee and northwest Alabama with damaging winds and embedded tornadoes as the primary hazards," the storm center said.

A tornado was confirmed at 11:12 a.m. CT just south of Reidland, Kentucky, moving northeast at 55 mph.

Flash flood warnings stretched about 400 miles across portions of Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana.

Widespread rain totals of 3 to 5 inches have fallen across the region since Thursday night, and 1 to 3 inches more possible through Friday.

Meanwhile, flood watches were also in effect for more than 20 million people from Arkansas to Ohio.

"Prolonged heavy rainfall rates associated with training showers and thunderstorms may also lead to flash flooding throughout much of the Mid-Mississippi and Ohio Valleys stretching eastward into the Mid-Atlantic," the Weather Prediction Center said Friday morning.

Tornadoes spotted Thursday

In Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, the storms damaged homes and businesses and caused flight disruptions at airports Thursday.

Six tornadoes were reported during Thursday's storms, including five in Texas and one in Louisiana, where dozens of homes were damaged in the city of Shreveport. Across Texas and Oklahoma, there were 18 hail reports, with the largest hailstones reportedly 1.75 inches in diameter, or roughly the size of a golf ball.

About 120,000 people in Texas were still without power early Friday, according to outage tracker, including about 8,000 people in metro Dallas-Fort Worth's Collin County, where winds were strong enough to knock over four 18-wheel semi-trucks, causing portions of a highway to be shut down, police said in a tweet.

Power was restored to medical facilities west of Fort Worth in Weatherford, Texas, where more than half the city was initially without power and many homes, businesses and the city hall were damaged, said city spokesman Blake Rexroat.

Snow-buried California communities brace for another round

After a brief reprieve from back-to-back winter storms that have brought unseasonably cold temperatures and prompted rare blizzard warnings in parts of the state, northern California is expecting another round of snow beginning Saturday.

By the end of the weekend, 1 to 5 feet of snow is possible across some northern areas, including the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

But many communities blanketed by the last round of snow have yet to recover as snowfall blocked critical roads, trapped them in their homes and damaged vital businesses such as grocery stores.

An 80-year-old woman, Lois Barton, died in a "weather-related" incident in Placer County, sheriff's office spokesperson Angela Musallam told CNN. She did not share the circumstances of the death, though where the incident occurred saw heavy snow and temperatures around freezing on Tuesday, CNN meteorologists said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a state of emergency in 13 counties this week, including hard-hit San Bernardino County where the National Guard arrived Thursday to assist with rescues of snowbound residents and shovel snow off the roads and from rooftops.

A number of structure fires in San Bernardino County appear to be storm-related, the county fire department told CNN. The department said the number of fires is "atypical" but did not provide an exact number.

Gas leaks are believed to be responsible for several house fires in the mountain communities, according to Fire Chief Dan Munsey. Many of them are in areas with unpassable roads. Firefighters are responding to homes using snowcats and often drudging in by foot with shovels and hoses and digging hydrants out of the snow to extinguish flames, Munsey said.

CNN has reached out to Southern California Gas Co., a major provider in the area, on reports of gas leaks.

In the San Bernardino community of Crestline, residents have been immobilized by the copious snowfall and have started to become worried about access to supplies as their sole local grocery store has closed after its roof caved in from heavy snow, resident Paul Solo told CNN.

Emergency crews are still out in force in the snow-laden mountains, eager to clear roads and reach isolated residents with food and supplies.

Rescuers are supplied with meals-ready-to-eat to distribute with those unable to get food, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said in a press conference on Friday. First responders will be setting up food distribution points and a convoy with food and other supplies to restock supermarkets will be escorted up the mountain, he added.

Nearly 100 inches of snow have fallen on Crestline and nearby Lake Arrowhead in recent days. Aerial footage from CNN affiliate KCAL shows neighborhoods with indiscernible streets and homes with snow piled to second-story windows.

The only way to get around is by shoveling walkways for emergency exits, Solo said. He added, "Everyone every day has been shoveling, and then it'll snow another two feet."

Solo believes it could be another week or two before the snow is cleared.

"Until then, we are trapped in our house. We couldn't even leave if we wanted to."