At least six people were killed in severe weather hit large areas of the United States Wednesday.
The National Weather Service described the situation in parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee as "particularly dangerous" as more than a dozen tornados and severe thunderstorms caused most of the deaths.
Other parts of the country were unseasonably warm, with record-breaking temperatures for the first week of winter looking more like spring in the Midwest and East.
Soaking rains made driving dangerous and caused some airlines to cancel flights in parts of the East Coast on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
When the storms move out, record-breaking temperatures will move in. Christmas Eve highs of 22 degrees Celsius are forecast for such major cities as New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, making dreams of a white Christmas remain as distant as Santa's workshop at the North Pole.
Government weather experts say the weather pattern known as El Nino is partially responsible for the usually warm temperatures.