Over 2,800 flights canceled amid winter storm
GARLAND, TEXAS: The winter storm system that spawned deadly tornadoes in Texas over the weekend brought heavy snow, ice and blustery winds Monday to several states in the nation's midsection, as well as heavy rain in already water-logged areas where flooding has already been blamed for more than a dozen deaths.
More than 2,800 flights across the US were cancelled Monday — more than half of them at Chicago's two main airports — and around 4,800 were delayed, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. A typical day sees about 150 cancellations and 4,000 delays.
At least 11 people died and dozens were injured in the winter storm that swept through the Dallas area Saturday. Snow from New Mexico through the Midwest, plus flooding in Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois, added to the succession of severe weather events across the US in the last week that led to about four dozen deaths.
Highways turned icy and treacherous in New Mexico, while Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency after blizzard conditions affected parts of the state and heavy rains fell.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the body of a 22-year-old man was recovered in northern Oklahoma but a second man, the lead singer of the country-rock band Backroad Anthem, was still missing after the two went duck hunting and their boat capsised. The body of a 36-year-old man who tried to cross a creek in his pickup truck near the town of Arpelar was also recovered Monday afternoon, the patrol said.
Officials in Arkansas said a 31-year-old man died in a storm-related drowning.
Several inches of rain caused flooding in Illinois and Missouri, where Gov. Jay Nixon also declared a state of emergency. Nixon says the state's death toll from days of pounding rainfall has risen to 10, and he expects that number to grow.
The Mississippi River neared a potential record crest, after an unusual amount of late-fall rain had the river already high before torrential downpours that began Saturday.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said Monday the state is seeking a federal disaster declaration for some or all of the seven counties hit by a tornado last week. Authorities in Georgia said they recovered the body of a man whose car was swept away when floodwaters overtook it.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made disaster declarations Sunday for four counties — Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and Ellis. Officials estimated as many as 1,450 homes in North Texas were damaged or destroyed by at least nine tornadoes.
The National Weather Service has said an EF-4 tornado, which is the second-most powerful with winds up to more than 200 mph (320 kph), hit Garland. Eight people died there, 15 were injured and more than 600 structures, mostly single-family homes, were damaged.
"I've never seen anything like this, with this scale of destruction," Garland Police Chief Mitch Bates said Monday.
He said authorities believe all eight of the tornado victims there, which included a 1-year-old, died when their vehicles were thrown from overpasses in the area of Interstate 30 and the George Bush Turnpike, a major route in the region.
With rain all day Sunday keeping people away, residents of Garland worked on a dreary and frigid Monday to salvage what they could, with the American Red Cross distributing items like tarps, rakes and work gloves to help them.
Interstate 40, the main east-west highway across the Texas Panhandle, reopened Monday morning. Most other roads across West Texas and the Panhandle had also reopened by late Monday, although snow-packed roads and ice made driving hazardous.