Heavy snow expected in Texas; storm could spawn tornadoes
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A winter storm moving across southwestern Texas on Wednesday could dump more than a foot (0.30 meters) of snow before moving eastward and possibly spawning tornadoes in parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi on New Year's Eve, according to weather forecasters.
The storm produced what Grams said was a likely a brief tornado in Corsicana, Texas, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Dallas shortly before noon Wednesday.
More than a dozen mobile homes were damaged in Corsicana, Navarro County officials said in a social media statement, but no injuries were reported. Two other homes were damaged by fallen trees.
The Navarro County Office of Emergency Management did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jeremy Grams, a forecaster with the National Weather Services’ Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said 12 to 18 inches (0.30 meters to 0.46 meters) of snow is possible west of the Pecos River in southwest Texas and another three to 5 inches (0.13 meters) in western Oklahoma by Thursday.
“That heavy snow swath is going to go through southwest Texas to western Oklahoma,” where 3 to 5 inches (0.08 meters to 0.13 meters) are expected, before moving eastward and threatening the Gulf Coast on Thursday as the colder air collides with moisture and warmer temperatures, Grams said.
“On the warm side of the system we have the chance for tornadoes from southeast Texas across most of Louisiana and at least into southern Mississippi,” Grams said.
Grams said a wintry mix of precipitation and a threat of tornadoes is uncommon, but not unheard of.
“I would not say it’s that odd, towards Christmas time, New Years, usually every few years we get an outbreak of tornadoes... it’s not every year that we get it, but this the time of year... it’s cold enough and we have the Gulf moisture and warmer temperatures," Grams said.
Grams said any tornadoes would likely be classified as EF2, with wind speeds of 111-135 mph (179-217 kph), or below, compared to violent tornadoes which he said are those rated EF4 and above with wind speeds of 166 mph (267. kph) and higher.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday placed several state agencies on standby ahead of the storm. Meanwhile, another storm system dropped heavy snow across the Upper Midwest and led to winter storm warnings for parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
In Oklahoma, the state Department of Transportation reported wet and slushy roads on Interstate 40 in central Oklahoma on Wednesday, and extending along I-44 to Tulsa and that salt and sand was being applied to the roadways.
Associated Press reporter Ken Miller reported from Oklahoma City.