The unrelenting winter weather is showing no signs of letting up.
At least three people were killed in a tornado that tore through a seaside North Carolina town and millions of people in Texas remained in the dark early Tuesday amid subfreezing temperatures.
The “massive” storm that caused the chaos was forecast to dump heavy snow and freezing rain in parts of the Great Lakes and Northeast on Tuesday while also causing showers and thunderstorms in south Florida that could lead to flash floods, the National Weather Service said.
Across the middle of the U.S., another day “bitter cold” will bring more record temperatures before more snow buries parts of the Southern Plains on Tuesday evening, the Weather Service said. And more low pressure is expected to lead to another winter storm with more snow and ice in the South and Midwest on Wednesday.
In North Carolina, the deadly tornado, which authorities said left at least 10 people injured, hit just after midnight Tuesday in southeastern Brunswick County near Grissettown in the Ocean Ridge Plantation Community.
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The tornado damaged at least 50 homes, downed powerlines that left thousands without electricity, and snapped trees in half.
“It’s something like I have never seen before. A lot of destruction. It’s going to be a long recovery process,” Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said at a press conference early Tuesday.
Brunswick County Emergency Management said people were trapped in homes. Ingram said searches for missing people were underway and will increase during the day. He asked people to avoid the area while crews work to clear the streets and search for victims.
At least six people in four states died as a result of the winter storm since the weekend.
In Houston early Tuesday, a woman and a girl died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning at a home without electricity from a car running in an attached garage, police said. The storm could also be to blame for the deaths of two men found along Houston-area roadways, law enforcement officials said. Causes of death were pending Monday night.
Meanwhile, more than 4 million homes and businesses were without power early Tuesday in Texas, where temperatures dipped into the single digits overnight. And more power outages could be coming, the Weather Service said, threatening people’s ability to heat their homes amid the record cold temperatures.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday said the state’s National Guard had been deployed to conduct welfare checks and help bring people to one of the 135 warming centers established across the state.
The bitter cold across the state has led to some power companies being unable to produce electricity from coal, natural gas and wind, Abbott said. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages power for 26 million customers, said Monday it was conducting controlled outages “to protect the electric grid from uncontrolled, cascading outages.”
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Much of east Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas were under winter storm warnings Tuesday in anticipation of the next round of snow and ice. In Dallas, the Weather Service said more ice and another 2 to 6 inches of snow were expected beginning Tuesday evening.
“Ice accumulations ranging between a quarter to a half inch are possible which would make for hazardous travel conditions, induce more power outages, and cause additional tree damage in these areas,” the Weather Service said.
Forecasters in Houston, where north of the city could also see up to half an inch of ice, said the accumulations could be “potentially devastating should these amounts be even higher.”
Parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas could see up to 8 inches of snow Tuesday and Wednesday, Weather Service offices said
The forecast office in Norman, Oklahoma, said light winds Tuesday could lead to “periods of very dangerous wind chills,” dropping below negative 20 degrees in Oklahoma City and much of the northern part of the state.
The northern part of Louisiana may only see a couple inches of snow, but nearly half an inch of ice was possible, the Weather Service said. Over 76,000 people were without power Tuesday morning. Gov. John Bel Edwards called the weather “a very serious emergency” on Monday.
“We can’t tell exactly when the thaw-out is going to happen and the roads may go from being unsafe to safe to unsafe again so we need everybody to be very mindful of that,” he said.
More than 50 million people could see temperatures dip below zero during the next several days, according to the Capital Weather Gang.
On Monday, bitter, record-smashing cold accompanied the storm across the central U.S. Hundreds of daily record low temperatures have been or will be broken during this prolonged “polar plunge,” the weather service said, “with some February and even all-time low temperature records in jeopardy.”
The Weather Service said the cold Tuesday could lead to “daily anomalies … between 35 to 45 degrees below normal.”
Meanwhile, in the Northeast on Tuesday, up to 10 inches of snow could fall in some areas, the Weather Service offices in New Hampshire and Maine said. Several more inches of snow are possible Thursday and Friday once the storm moves from the South to mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
Contributing: Emma Dill, Wilmington StarNews; The Associated Press