Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Storm leaves 29 dead across US

FATAL BLOW The winter blast left thousands without power in Oklahoma and Missouri, caused accidents in several states and likely ruined citrus crops in California

AFP , CHICAGO

Power lines in McAlester, Oklahoma, show evidence of the winter storm sweeping across the central US.

PHOTO: AP

A massive winter storm moved eastward across the central US on Monday bringing snow, sleet, ice and flash floods, killing at least 29 people and prompting US President George W. Bush to declare an emergency in Oklahoma.

Since Friday, weather-related road accidents killed 14 people in Oklahoma, including seven in a minivan crash on Sunday, while 103,000 people were without power, state authorities said on Monday.

Bush declared an emergency in the central state. The Federal Emergency Management Agency began distributing generators and bottled water to communities hit by the ice storm, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said.

The state of Missouri said the weather claimed eight lives, with traffic accidents caused by slick conditions killing seven and one dying from carbon monoxide poisoning, a common cause of death when those without power use fuel-burning stoves to heat their homes.

More than 300,000 people lost power in Missouri due to downed power lines, the state reported on Sunday. One line worker was injured when he fell from a utility pole.

In Kansas, five people were reported killed in weather-related traffic accidents and one person was poisoned by carbon monoxide exposure, said state officials quoted by the Kansas City Star newspaper.

One person died in a weather-related traffic accident in New York state, WGY radio reported.

In Texas to the south, the governor called out the National Guard after more than 15cm of rain caused flash flooding and dramatic high-water rescues.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings and advisories in several states, from Louisiana to Ohio and Illinois. An ice storm warning was posted for parts of the northeastern states of New Hampshire and Maine.

Record-breaking cold weather even hit the Pacific Coast state of California, where mild temperatures usually prevail all year.

In central Los Angeles, the thermometer dropped to 2?C on Monday morning, a record-setting temperature not felt in the city for 75 years.

Farmers in the Central Valley and the southern part of the state worried about freezing temperatures ruining the lucrative citrus crop, the Los Angeles Times and other media reported.

Photographs showed icicles hanging off of tangerine trees in a Central Valley orchard near Fresno, a rare sight in the state.

California oranges, lemons and other produce worth as much as half a billion dollars were likely ruined, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday, citing an industry spokesman.

The storm in central states was moving eastward and has already caused ice storms in western parts of New York state, forecasters said. It was expected to cause less trouble as it crosses the northeast New England region, the National Weather Service said.

"Things are improving but it's cold," National Weather Service meteorologist Bruce Sullivan said.

The Midwest will get a break from the weather, Sullivan said, followed by a dusting of snow.

"That will usher in a lot colder air, and a `lake effect' from the Great Lakes," in which cold air passing over the lakes picks up moisture and dumps snow on surrounding areas, he said.

Parts of Colorado got up to half a meter of snow, while up to 8cm of sleet were reported in Illinois, Kansas and Missouri, Romano said. Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri got 2.5cm or more of freezing rain.

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