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Foul weather sweeps Midwest U.S., snarls holiday travel

English.news.cn   2013-12-22 14:44:59            

HOUSTON, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- A cold front moved through the Midwest and southern United States Saturday, leaving tens of thousands of households without power and adding further frustration to the holiday travel rush.

Central Arkansas experienced flash flooding and heavy rainfall Saturday morning as the National Weather Service issued tornado watches for five southern counties in the state.

Several roads in Little Rock, the state's capital, were closed due to flash floods, and multiple traffic accidents were reported.

Thunderstorms and high winds left about 6,000 Arkansans without power Saturday afternoon, the highest number in the state this year, according to power company Entergy.

Severe weather also hit southern and eastern Arkansas. Authorities said a suspected tornado injured three people and damaged three homes Saturday evening near Hughes in east Arkansas. Meteorologists said another suspected tornado touched down near Dermott in far southeastern Arkansas, injuring two people and damaging about 20 homes.

Ice has blanketed most of Oklahoma, creating travel problems and causing power crews to work around the clock. As evening settled in Saturday, colder air spread across the state and the precipitation changed to snow, local media reported.

More than 8,600 homes were left without power across the state, including more than 4,100 in its capital, the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company said.

Most of the outages were caused by ice and freezing rain coating trees and power lines, which resulted in dangerous collapses. A falling tree limb sparked a house fire in Tulsa in northeast Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon. No injuries were reported in the incident.

Icy weather also delayed and canceled hundreds of flights at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City. Passengers who had planned to return home for Christmas were stranded at the airport. Terminals turned into campsites, as passengers waited, slept and hoped for good news.

Likewise, at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, thousands of weary travelers waited for hours for their flights heading into Christmas week.

Editor: Hou Qiang
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