USA: Death toll in US southeast’s storms increases to 18

The death toll in the U.S. Southeast climbed to 18 on Saturday after days of tumultuous weather — unusual warmth, tornadoes and torrential downpours — wreaked more Christmastime havoc.

Alabama 2612A Merry Christmas sign is mostly submerged by floodwaters from the Pea River, Dec. 26, 2015 in Elba, Ala.

Birmingham, Dec 26, 2015.- The deaths of two people in Mississippi who had been missing since Wednesday were reported Saturday, bringing that state’s weather-related fatality toll to 10.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said 56 injuries were reported and 241 homes were destroyed or severely damaged. Severe storms were forecast Sunday night through Monday as a strong cold front pushes through, and tornadoes were possible.

Late Saturday, one death was reported in Alabama, where flash flooding closed about 190 roads across the state, according to the governor’s office. Authorities recovered the body of a 5-year-old boy who drowned after the car he was riding in was submerged by floodwaters the day before, Coffee County Coroner Robert Preachers said. A 22-year-old man who was also in the car was still missing.

Earlier, six people were killed in Tennessee, including three who were found in a car submerged in a creek, according to the Columbia Police Department. One person died in Arkansas, and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed.

The flooding was the result of heavy downpours that have thrashed the Southeastern U.S. since Wednesday, bringing record rainfalls in some areas. Four inches of rain walloped the city of Mobile, Alabama, on Wednesday, smashing the previous record of 2.2 inches set in 1990.

In north Texas, meanwhile, residents hunkered down for what the National Weather Service was calling a “historic blizzard.” Some parts of the Panhandle could see as much as 14 inches of snow, with subzero wind chills and accumulating ice. Residents in Lubbock and Amarillo prepared for a storm expected to begin Saturday night.

South of Dallas, meanwhile, the National Weather Service reported numerous sightings of a tornado that touched down near the town of Duncanville early in the evening. There were no immediate reports of damage.

The tornado’s trajectory was taking it toward downtown Dallas, but WFAA television said that it appeared to have lifted off the ground as it moved north.

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