Floods Route West Virginians; Cold Records Fall in Northrn Plains
Undated (AP) _ Hundreds of flood-weary West Virginians were forced from their homes for the second time in a month as heavy rain fell from Arkansas to the upper Ohio Valley, while unrelenting cold held sway today from the Northwest into the Midwest.
Record low temperatures were smashed across the northern tier of states, with readings of more than than 20 degrees below zero over sections of the northern Plains and northern Rockies.
On the other side of the cold front, in the Southeast, high temperatures broke records Wednesday from Louisiana to the Carolinas. Roses and azaleas were blooming out of season because of unusual warmth.
A four-story section of wall was ripped off an office building during an intense thunderstorm in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday but authorities said they didn’t know whether it had been struck by a tornado, lightning or strong winds.
″It began to rain real hard and then you could see the rain going in circles,″ said Dwight Gordon, a security guard at the 12-story building, who saw what appeared to be a funnel cloud just before the wall was sheared off.
″When I saw that coming, I ran back behind a pillar and then I heard this boom.″
Bad weather since the weekend was blamed for 28 deaths, most of them traffic fatalities.
A blizzard struck Wednesday at Jackson Hole, Wyo., where snow blown by 86- mph winds reduced visibility to near zero.
Freezing rain and sleet slicked roads from southern Michigan to New York, while snow was accumulating in northeast Ohio and parts of Illinois, Michigan and Iowa.
Flood watches were posted today for parts of West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, and flood warnings were in effect in southern Ohio, where mudslides covered a 10-mile stretch of highway along the Ohio River.
More than 3 inches of rain fell in less than 18 hours over West Virginia’s northern panhandle Tuesday and Wednesday, causing streams to flood and forcing about 700 evacuations.
In Rowlesburg, in northern West Virginia, a temporary dam on the Cheat River gave way but released about five feet of water slowly enough to prevent destruction downstream, a Preston County sheriff’s spokesman said.
Much of the state, including some area flooded Wednesday, was hard-hit three weeks ago by flooding that killed at least 38 people and caused at least $480 million in damage statewide.
There were no reports of injuries, but Belmont County Sheriff Tom McCort said two vehicles that were reported sliding into the Ohio River Tuesday night were still missing.
Storms also dumped more than 7 inches of rain in parts of Arkansas, causing street flooding, school closings and contributing to an eight-vehicle, pileup on Interstate 30 near Little Rock that killed a 2-year-old child, state police said.
Families were returning to their homes around Dunbar, Pa., on Wednesday after being evacuated because of flooding. At least 150 residents were forced from their homes Tuesday night after Dunbar Creek flooded its banks, said Richard Adobato of the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency.
November’s rainfall reached 10.28 inches at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport at 4 p.m. Wednesday, topping the previous monthly record of 10.25 inches set in June 1951, National Weather Service hydrologist Aldo Angelo said.
In the west, heavy snow prompted travelers’ advisories today in parts of Washington, Oregon, California.
A winter storm watch was issued for California’s northern Sierra Nevada and the Lake Tahoe basin for tonight and Friday.
Temperatures plunged to record lows today in Fargo, N.D., where the reading of 24 degrees below zero broke a record set in 1887 by three degrees. Great Falls, Mont., had a record low of 24 below, and International Falls, Minn., 29 below.