EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A powerful winter storm that dropped snow in places from El Paso, Texas, to the Great North Woods of Maine paid a violent visit to New Orleans and then brought more severe weather across the Deep South early Thursday.
Winter storm warnings or advisories were in effect from northeastern Oklahoma to New England, the National Weather Service said, and the Storm Prediction Center forecast storms early Thursday with the potential of generating hail, 60 mph (95 kph) winds and twisters. Flooding was reported in Alabama, and flood watches were in effect as the front moved eastward.
Snow also was falling in places from the upper Midwest into New England, where a few inches was expected on the coast of Maine and up to 16 inches could fall in the New Hampshire mountains before sunny skies take hold over the weekend.
Scaffolding at a Four Seasons Hotel construction site collapsed onto at least a dozen cars Wednesday, injuring one person, as thunderstorms and high winds moved through New Orleans. Hail pounded the city’s central business district, and high winds shattered the glass on two revolving doors.
Downtown streets were flooded near the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and rain fell steadily through the night in Atlanta, bringing temperatures up to a balmy 65 degrees (18 Celsius).
Snow is unusual along the Mexican border in El Paso, where mail carrier Pablo Salinas of San Elizario said the weather and traffic accidents nearly doubled his drive to work. Salinas said about 4 inches (10 centimeters) of snow had melted by noon Wednesday, however, with only a bit of snow dusting the palm trees lining the street and the red rock hills above.
The weather service forecast sunny skies and a high of about 50 degrees (10 Celsius) for El Paso on Thursday. However, freezing temperatures were expected to preserve Wednesday’s snow accumulations from the Red River Valley of Texas through Oklahoma, prompting school systems to remain closed Thursday in those areas.
The winter storm mostly missed a parade to celebrate the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl win. The weather service had predicted several inches of snowfall along the parade route, but the storm shifted slightly, sparing fans from all but a few flurries.
Snowfall was heavier to the east, where several tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles collided around noon, closing westbound traffic on a bridge that spans the Missouri River near Rocheport. Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott White said at least one person was taken from the scene in an ambulance.
Highway Patrol troopers worked more than two dozen accidents in the Oklahoma City area early Wednesday, including some with injuries, after several inches of snow fell overnight, said Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Sarah Stewart.
“The biggest impact has been snarled traffic from jack-knifed semis,” Stewart said.
Associated Press reporters Michael Warren in Atlanta, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas; Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Missouri; Terry Wallace in Dallas and Sean Murphy and Ken Miller in Oklahoma City contributed to this report