US battered by tornadoes, wind and snow as more storms expected

Large swaths of country face extreme conditions as more than 300,000 homes and businesses remain without power

More than 304,000 US homes and businesses were still without power on Monday afternoon, following a weekend of wild winter weather that wreaked havoc from coast to coast – and the storms aren’t done yet. Millions of people across the US are bracing for more heavy snow and strong winds across the country as the threat of devastating tornadoes lingers through the midwest.

“A busy weather pattern is expected to continue through midweek with impacts throughout many different regions of the country,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a Monday forecast, noting the continuation of frosty conditions and furious gusts. Some parts of California could see several feet of snow in the coming days, with winds of up to 60mph.

Over the weekend, California was doused in snow and ice, leaving even low-lying areas dusted in white, to the delight and alarm of residents accustomed to more balmy conditions.

Deluges of rain battered the sodden state, causing cascades of water and rockslides down saturated hillsides, and flooding streets, while the blustery storm toppled trees and power lines, leaving thousands of Californians without heat when temperatures plummeted. The rare blast of wintry weather prompted blizzard warnings for the first time in the mountainous areas of San Diego county and the second time in Los Angeles county.

Truckers drive across the southern Sierra Nevada mountains following a pass’s reopening near Mojave, California.
Truckers drive across the southern Sierra Nevada mountains following a pass’s reopening near Mojave, California. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

Meanwhile, at least 12 people were injured in Oklahoma as seven tornadoes tore through the state on Sunday night, and one fatality has been confirmed in the aftermath. Emergency crews are still surveying the damage as risks remain for more tornadoes across the Ohio valley through the evening.

“Severe thunderstorms capable of producing a few tornadoes and damaging gusts remain possible,” the NWS Storm Prediction Center warned on Monday, adding that dangers were most severe across parts of Indiana and Ohio.

Norman, the third largest city in Oklahoma, was among the hardest hit, but two destructive tornadoes also swept across Kansas this weekend, as thunderstorms blasted the region with hurricane-force winds. In Memphis, Texas, wind gusts reached 114mph, according to the NWS – strong enough to rival sustained winds in a category 3 hurricane.

Despite the icy weather to the north, the dry winds in Texas also prompted forecasters to warn of critical fire-weather conditions across the panhandle and into eastern New Mexico.

To the east, several states in the midwest and north-east on Monday were bracing for rain and winter storms as many areas still worked to regain power after the weekend weather.

An ice-covered tree branch is seen on the ground after a freezing ice storm in Yipsilanti, Michigan.
An ice-covered tree branch is seen on the ground after a freezing ice storm in Yipsilanti, Michigan. Photograph: Rebecca Cook/Reuters

More than 196,000 homes and businesses were still without power in Michigan on Monday evening after a major ice storm damaged essential infrastructure last week, leaving swaths of the state cold and dark for days. Now, as a new storm threatens to pelt the state with another round of freezing rain and strong winds, crews are rushing to fix the battered grid.

Public officials have been critical of the dangerous infrastructure breakdown, blaming energy companies and calling for credits to customers who have been without power during the storms.

“While this ice storm appears to have been one of the worst we have seen in many years, winter weather is an expected occurrence in Michigan. Residents deserve a grid they can rely on,” the state’s attorney general, Dana Nessel, said in a written statement on Monday.

“Despite asking for record increases time and time again, our utilities have failed to adequately invest in their own infrastructure or prepare for these storm events, choosing instead to leave ratepayers in the dark,” she added. “Our current service quality standards are not sufficient, and it is incumbent on the utilities to right this wrong.”


Gabrielle Canon in San Francisco and Gloria Oladipo in New York

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Floods, tornadoes, heat: more extreme weather predicted across US
Over a third of Americans under extreme heat warnings as Vermont, still recovering from historic flooding, prepares for more storms

Kari Paul and agency

14, Jul, 2023 @11:57 AM

Article image
Huge tornadoes tear through midwest US: 'This town is absolutely devastated'
One woman found dead and at least seven people hospitalised.
Weather service issues a warning of ‘enhanced risk’ for other areas in region

Alan Yuhas in New York

10, Apr, 2015 @1:38 PM

Article image
Tornadoes and storms hit US south as six killed in Mississippi
Twister destroys hundreds of buildings in Louisiana while at least six die in Mississippi due to severe weather

Richard Luscombe

12, Apr, 2020 @11:31 PM

Article image
Mexico and US lashed by storms, leaving at least 17 dead
Texas and Oklahoma hit hard by storms and flash floods, with thousands of Texans forced from their homes

Amanda Holpuch in New York and Damien Gayle in London

26, May, 2015 @9:23 AM

Article image
World weatherwatch: Tornadoes, monsoons and snow
Tornadoes hit US as torrential rain causes floods in India and a cold front brings snow to South Africa

Brendan Jones (MetDesk)

04, Jul, 2018 @8:30 PM

Article image
More than 50% of trans and non-binary youth in US considered suicide this year, survey says
The alarmingly high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide attempts are spread across liberal and conservative regions

Sam Levin in Los Angeles

17, Dec, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Larger than usual snowpack in California gives hope of reprieve in drought
Extreme weather filled the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides roughly a third of the state’s water supply

Gabrielle Canon

27, Jan, 2023 @11:00 AM

Article image
More tornadoes tear through central US as 40m at risk of severe weather
A dozen people injured as twisters rage across Kansas while Missouri, Pennsylvania and Illinois also report tornadoes

Erin Durkin and agencies

29, May, 2019 @3:13 PM

Article image
'It’s a killer. We’re done': Covid-19 puts ballot initiatives in peril
Social distancing measures are making it impossible for organizers to gather signatures they need to put key reforms on state ballots

Sam Levine

16, Apr, 2020 @11:00 AM

Article image
Over 200 tornadoes rip through America in just two weeks
Spate of storms exacerbated by cold, wet weather in California, has put 34 million people under severe weather warnings

Oliver Milman

30, May, 2019 @7:14 PM