Storms, hail hit South; snow hits the Northeast

A winter storm hit New England early Tuesday that could receive close to a foot of snow in some areas. Meanwhile, the South tries to recover from baseball-sized hail that left thousands without power.

Severe thunderstorms raked a wide area of the South on Monday with strong winds, rain and baseball-size hail, while snow closed schools In the Dakotas, and a winter storm hit New England.

THE SOUTH

Tens of thousands of people are still without power after powerful winds and massive hail hammered the South.

In Mississippi, hail busted car windows and pelted homes and businesses after the storms passed through Monday. Some hail was as large as baseballs in some areas in and around the capital of Jackson.

In Alabama, utility officials say straight-line winds gusting as high as 80 mph toppled trees and power lines. One person had to be rescued from a house in Rainbow City after a tree fell on it. More than a dozen people in that state were sent to hospitals.

Alabama Power says some 98,200 people were still without power around 6 a.m. Tuesday. The utility says it sent out crews early this morning and is bringing in reinforcements from other states.

Storms hit South: Andrew Stamps and his wife, Valorie, prepare to cover the shattered rear window of her car Monday in Pearl, Miss. IMAGEAP Photo: Rogelio V. Solis

"What I found interesting is that hail is the threat that we don't talk about that much," said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeff Rent on Monday. "But you can see how destructive it can be in a short amount of time. We got a tough lesson today."

Glenn Ezell and his son were putting tarps on the metal roof of their mobile home in Brandon after the storm swept through the area.

"It started hailing big enough that it come through the roof and broke the sheetrock. It was as big as your fist," he said.

Meteorologists recorded wind speeds of 80 mph in some areas, and DeKalb County EMA director Anthony Clifton said the roof was ripped from a school in Collinsville, about 15 miles southwest of Fort Payne.

In Tennessee, heavy rain helped firefighters contain a wildfire that burned nearly 60 rental cabins in a resort area outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The fire forced up to 200 people who had been staying in cabins in the area to evacuate.

Fire officials had worried earlier that wind-whipped flames might jump a ridgeline and threaten Pigeon Forge, a popular tourism destination that's home to country star Dolly Parton's amusement park, Dollywood.

 

NEW ENGLAND

Winter went out with a blast in the Northeast on Tuesday, snow and sleet delaying the start of school in some areas and making the morning commute an icy, slippery mess a day before spring starts.

The nasty weather led some schools in upstate New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut to close, adding a few more snow days to school calendars.

Judy Andonian, 67, of Manchester-by-the-Sea, was dropping off mail at the post office in Wenham on Tuesday morning.

She had recently moved back to Massachusetts from Arkansas to be closer to her grandchildren.

"Now I am back in the trenches," she said, adding she is holding out hope that this is the last snow of the season. "I want this to be over."

The winter storm that started overnight Monday and early Tuesday might even continue into Tuesday night for northern areas. Snow is expected to cover newly bare patches of ground and force people to gas up their snow blowers again on the last day of winter.

Some were welcoming the forecast, as the coming storm looked to extend the ski season. Just a year ago this week, local temperatures hit the 80s, prompting skiers in Maine to strip down to shorts and bikini tops and forcing an end to the season at many mountains.

At Sugarbush Resort in Vermont, communications manager Patrick Brown said more snow now could make spring the best time of year for many.

"Skiers like both of those things: great sunny warm days and lots of snow," Brown said.

The forecasts called for as much as 20 inches of snow in parts of northern New England, with lesser amounts mixed with sleet further south. Boston and Providence, R.I., could each get 4-8 inches, and Hartford, Conn., 4-8 inches of snow and sleet. Portland, Maine, could get at least a foot of snow. Montpelier, Vt., was expecting at least 10 to 18 inches, and Concord, N.H., 7 to 13 inches. But those totals could go much higher if the storm continues into Tuesday night.

The likelihood of school cancellations Tuesday led Massachusetts officials to postpone the English composition section of its standardized state test until next Monday, to keep all schools on the same test date. Boston, which kept schools open for the most recent storm, cancelled classes for Tuesday.

After a storm earlier this month dumped over a foot of snow in some areas and caused coastal flooding in Massachusetts, some New Englanders weren't looking forward to more winter weather.

In downtown Concord, N.H., Jennifer Hutchins said: "I hate it ... I guess I like to watch it fall, but I don't like when it sticks around."

 

Storm hits Midwest: A medical facility is engulfed in blowing snow Monday in Wausau, Wis. IMAGEAP Photo: Daily Herald Media, Dan Young

THE MIDWEST

A late-winter storm shut down schools and caused travel problems Monday throughout much of North Dakota and eastern South Dakota.

Motorists in many areas were advised not to travel or to use extreme caution because of blowing snow. The wind was forecast to gust up to 60 mph in northeastern South Dakota.

"It doesn't take a whole lot of snow with these strong winds to cause problems," National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Vipond told the American News in Aberdeen, S.D. Ice also was a problem on roads in the region, according to KELO-TV.

Parts of eastern North Dakota were expecting more than half a foot of snow. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for much of eastern North Dakota and for northeastern and east central South Dakota.

Many schools started late or called off classes for the day. Personnel at Minot Air Force Base in north central North Dakota who were not considered "essential" were allowed to come to work late.

People had to be rescued from more than two dozen stranded vehicles on Interstate 29 between Fargo and Wahpeton in southeastern North Dakota late Sunday and early Monday, Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind told The Forum newspaper.

The storm occurred a few days ahead of the next NWS outlook for spring flooding, due out Thursday. Hydrologist Mike Lukes told The Associated Press that the additional moisture could increase the risk for flooding in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

"We're sitting somewhere between 3, 4, 5, 6 inches of water in the snow already," he said. "Additional (moisture) will add to it, but as far as (the flood risk) going up significantly higher, that probably isn't in the cards."

Lukes estimated the new snow in the southern Red River Valley contained about half an inch of water, and the snow in the northern valley about 3- to 4-tenths of an inch.

This system continues a pattern of winter weather in the area, as Fargo saw several inches of snow Friday. It also was preceded by record cold. The temperature at Grand Forks dropped to minus 18 degrees on Saturday and minus 23 degrees on Sunday — both city records for those dates.

Minnesota faced heavy snow showers while bands of snow continue across Iowa and headed eastward into the Upper Great Lakes.

Minnesota expected snow accumulations up to 10 inches by Monday evening. Wisconsin anticipated up to 5 inches, with up to 2 inches in Iowa.

 

Associated Press writers Holbrook Mohr, Phillip Lucas, Jay Lindsay, Clarke Canfield, Lisa Rathke and Morgan True contributed to this report.

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