Extreme weather is wrecking havoc over the United States this holiday season. On Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015, severe tornadoes and storms ripped through Northern Texas near Dallas leaving death and destruction in hits path. In total, the death toll is now 11, with eight fatalities just in Garland, the city that was hit the hardest. The whole country has been experiencing extreme weather after unseasonable warm temperatures and the area will continue to see more as the weather get colder causing heavy snowfalls.
In Garland, a suburb of 230,000, eight died, 15 were injured and 600 structures damaged. Garland Police Lt. Pedro Barineau told the press, “This is a huge impact on our community and we’re all suffering.” Across Garland, houses were destroyed with sides and facades ripped off and cars overturned. Five of the deaths were traffic related and occurred “near Interstate 30 and the George Bush Turnpike northeast of Dallas.” Some of the cars fell from the bridge down 17 feet.
The three other deaths were in Copeville in Collin County according to the Sheriff’s office spokesman Chris Havey, who did not provide additional information except that one of the death was an infant.
Damages occurred in other areas as well, a police officer near Rowlett reported, “We’ve got power lines down everywhere and gas leaks,” that there were “a lot of leveled houses” and “people were trapped” including a family of four.
In Ellis County, south of Dallas, a tornado destroyed two churches. Ellis County emergency manager Stephanie Parker tweeted about the destruction and danger, “We have destroyed and damaged homes. Please do not get out on the roads if you do not have to.” North Texas had 30 tornado warnings forcing Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to close for an hour. There were also reports of flooding south of Dallas.
The severe storms come after “unseasonably warm weather” caused tornadoes, extreme rain and flooding across the south and southeast states. That system left 18 people dead in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas when the storm hit the southern states including Alabama and Georgia.
The weather is only going to become worse on Sunday, Dec. 27 when an arctic cold front moves in causing “snow, sleet and freezing rain” that will hit west Texas all the way to New Mexico. According to the National Weather Service forecast, “By Sunday morning, the snow, sleet and freezing rain will expand northeast across the southern Plains.”
Continuing the National Weather Service promised heavy winds and “Heavy snowfall amounts of 10 to 18 inches are forecast through Sunday evening across much of western/northwestern Texas, with 18 to 24 inches forecast across portions of New Mexico.” The blizzard warning will affect 1.2 million people. Strong winds will also affect “central Oklahoma up into Kansas.”
The National Weather Service also forecasts severe thunderstorms and flooding Sunday “in eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, north-central Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.” Heavy snow will hit southeast Wyoming to northern Michigan giving “10 to 15 or more inches” to southern Minnesota to northern Michigan. The system will move to the Great Lakes and Northeast on late Sunday and Monday “bringing 5 to 10 inches of snow for central and northern Maine.”