An epic storm system that has already struck much of the country and claimed dozens of lives is continuing to wreak havoc. The storm has hit much of the country with rain, snow, ice, flooding, and tornadoes. At least 43 deaths have been blamed on the storm system. Many of those people died when their vehicles were swept away by flooding.
In some areas, such as Portland and Seattle, it has been raining every day for weeks. About 400 rivers have flooded across the country.
Even though the rain has ended in Missouri, the threat of flooding is not over. The National Weather Service is predicting major or historic river flooding into early next week. Flood warnings were in effect for 16 counties on December 29. Severe flooding could continue for weeks as water moves downstream. Eight people died in flooding in Missouri over the weekend.
The Southeast experienced record warmth recently, but temperatures were expected to drop. Parts of the South were forecast to experience heavy rain and flooding.
Many people in Texas have been displaced from their homes by destructive tornadoes, including one that killed eight people in Garland. Damage from the tornadoes has been severe in some places. In the past week, at least 69 tornadoes have touched down across the United States. Usually a total of 24 tornadoes touch down in all of December.
The storm is expected to continue to drop snow and ice on the Northern and Central Plains, Great Lakes, and Northeast. A half-inch of ice was expected in northern Massachusetts on December 29. Four to six inches of snow were forecast in Vermont and New Hampshire, and Maine was expected to get eight to 12 inches of snow.
The severe weather is the result of El Nino, a warming of the water in the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator. El Ninos occur every two to seven years and vary in intensity. The phenomenon causes storms that are more frequent and intense than usual and can result in billions of dollars worth of damage.