The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 25, 2012

Nasty storms blamed 1 death, make travel tough

— NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Freezing rain and sleet made for a sloppy Christmas trek in parts of the nation's midsection, while residents along the Gulf Coast faced thunderstorms, high winds and tornadoes that were doing damage in some areas.

Winds toppled a tree onto a pickup truck in the Houston area, killing the driver. Icy roads already were blamed for a 21-vehicle pileup in Oklahoma, where authorities warned would-be travelers to stay home.

Trees fell on a few houses in central Louisiana's Rapides Parish but there were no injuries reported so far and crews were cutting trees out of roadways to get to people in their homes, said sheriff's Lt. Tommy Carnline. Possible damage also was reported near McNeil, Miss.

Fog blanketed highways, including arteries in the Atlanta area where motorists slowed as a precaution. In New Mexico, drivers across the eastern plains had to fight through snow, ice and low visibility.

At least three tornadoes were reported in Texas, though only one building was damaged, according to the National Weather Service. Tornado watches were in effect across southern Louisiana and Mississippi.

More than 180 flights nationwide were canceled by midday, according to the flight tracker FlightAware.com. More than half were canceled by American Airlines and its regional affiliate, American Eagle.

American is headquartered and has its biggest hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Christmas lights also were knocked out with more than 70,000 people without power in east Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Meanwhile, blizzard conditions were possible for parts of Illinois, Indiana and western Kentucky with predictions of 4 to 7 inches of snow. Much of Oklahoma and Arkansas braced under a winter storm warning of an early mix of rain and sleet forecast to eventually turn to snow. About a dozen counties in Missouri were under a blizzard warning from Tuesday night to noon Wednesday.

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