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Severe Weather Batters Americas

  • Lou Lorscheider

An emergency vehicle drives through a neighborhood in Rowlett, Texas, Dec. 27, 2015, the morning after it was struck by a tornado.

An emergency vehicle drives through a neighborhood in Rowlett, Texas, Dec. 27, 2015, the morning after it was struck by a tornado.

Violent weekend weather battered large swaths of the southern and central United States, leaving at least 43 people dead.

Tornadoes killed at least 11 people in Texas as other areas of the country braced for potentially crippling winter storms and flash flooding.

One of several tornadoes that struck in and near the city of Dallas late Saturday carried winds of more than 320 kilometers an hour, leaving at least eight people dead. Three others died nearby, as a residential building in a northern suburb was destroyed and vehicles were blown from a highway overpass.

Authorities say scores of others were injured in the region, just days after tornadoes killed at least 19 people in the country's southeast.

People run as weather sirens sound as a severe storm passes over downtown Dallas, Dec. 26, 2015.

People run as weather sirens sound as a severe storm passes over downtown Dallas, Dec. 26, 2015.

As recovery efforts expanded Sunday, forecasters issued severe weather advisories for large parts of the southern and central United States, including blizzard warnings for parts of New Mexico, northern Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez placed her entire jurisdiction under a state of emergency, as residents braced for as much as 60 centimeters of snow.

Additionally, flash flood warnings extended from Texas and New Mexico to the north central state of Indiana. Flooding has killed at least 13 people in nearby states Missouri and Illinois.

California fires

In California, more than 600 firefighters battled a sprawling brush fire that has burned about 500 hectares in a state that has faced severe drought conditions for the past four years. Officials say the fire north of Los Angeles is now 60 percent contained.

Firefighters work to remove brush to prevent a wildfire from spreading along a remote oil field access road in Ventura County, California, Dec. 26, 2015.

Firefighters work to remove brush to prevent a wildfire from spreading along a remote oil field access road in Ventura County, California, Dec. 26, 2015.


Elsewhere, extreme weather continued to grip much of the eastern United States Sunday, with unseasonably mild and wet weather reaching northward from Florida to New England.

Scientists have linked the extreme weather to warming El Nino currents in Pacific waters stretching from coastal Ecuador and Peru northward to encompass the U.S. West Coast.

Floods wreak havoc in South America

In South America, emergency officials say as many as 150,000 people in the border areas of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina have fled their homes ahead of severe flooding from torrential summer rains linked to the El Nino phenomenon.

Regional reports say 90,000 residents of the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, had been evacuated by Saturday evening -- many of them families living in sub-standard housing near the Paraguay River.

A woman (L) and her daughter carry a table on a flooded street as they leave their home in San Miguel neighborhood in Asuncion, Paraguay. Dec. 27, 2015.

A woman (L) and her daughter carry a table on a flooded street as they leave their home in San Miguel neighborhood in Asuncion, Paraguay. Dec. 27, 2015.


Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes declared a state of emergency in the capital and several nearby regions.

Another 20,000 people in nearby northern Argentina also were forced to flee, while officials in Uruguay said 9,000 people near swollen rivers had suffered the same fate.

Civil defense authorities in the nearby southeastern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sol said at least 7,000 residents had evacuated.

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