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Storm Brings Snow, Possible Tornadoes to Plains

A possible 2-mile-wide tornado hit northeast Nebraska Friday evening
Updated Friday, Oct. 4, 8:59 p.m. ET

Snow falls over a residential neighborhood during a storm Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in Rapid City, S.D. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Benjamin Brayfield)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A storm system that buried parts of Wyoming and South Dakota in heavy, wet snow on Friday also brought powerful thunderstorms and possible tornadoes to the Great Plains.

The storm dumped at least 33 inches of snow in a part of South Dakota's scenic Black Hills, National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Helgeson said Friday afternoon. Later in the day, thunderstorms rolled across the Plains, and witnesses reported seeing tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.

Storms packing powerful winds destroyed homes in the northeast Nebraska town of Wayne, where witnesses said a tornado appeared to be 2 miles wide, according to the National Weather Service. The weather service said witnesses also reported at least two tornadoes near Sioux City, Iowa, causing some damage in Jefferson, S.D., and Moville, Iowa. The extent of the damage wasn't immediately clear because the storms hit as night fell; it also wasn't immediately clear if anyone was injured.

Earlier in the day, snow was blamed for the deaths of three people who were killed in a traffic accident on snow-slicked U.S. 20 in northeast Nebraska.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Powerful Autumn Storms Hit the Midwest
Autumn Snow StormForecasters said the cold front would eventually combine with other storms to make for a wild, and probably very wet, weekend for much of the central U.S. and Southeast.

Julie Lee said she and fellow members of her White Rose Band were accustomed to snow, just "not for the fourth of October." They had barely unloaded their instruments in South Dakota's Old West casino town of Deadwood before the wet, heavy snow started falling and closed part of Interstate 90, the area's only interstate.

"Our car is like an igloo," said Lee, who sings and plays the clarinet and saxophone for her North Dakota-based polka band. "I'm glad we got everything out."

The snow prompted Deadwood officials to postpone their annual Octoberfest, including Friday night's dancing-and-singing pub crawl an d Saturday's Wiener Dog Races and Beer Barrel Games. But Lee said she and her accordion-playing husband, who had planned to set up in a casino bar, would entertain stranded guests because "you can only gamble for so long."

Officials were warning drivers to stay off the roads in the Black Hills and in eastern Wyoming, where reports of 5 to 10 inches of snow were common. Forecasters urged travelers to carry survival kits and to stay in their vehicles if stranded.

"I've lived in Wyoming my whole life and I've never seen it like this this early," Patricia Whitman, shift manager at the Flying J truck stop in Gillette, said in a telephone interview. She said her truck stop's parking lot was full of travelers waiting out the storm.

"I know several of the businesses nearby are completely closed because they can't even get workers into work - it's pretty nasty," she said.

The snow also snapped tree limbs that knocked out power lines in parts of the state, caus ing thousands of people to lose power.

By Friday night, South Dakota officials had closed I-90 from the Wyoming border to Murdo. And no travel was advised in Rapid City, where first responders were overwhelmed with calls for stuck vehicles and downed trees and power lines making some roads impassable. Police spokeswoman Tarah Heupel said snow and ice was accumulating on traffic signals, making the lights difficult to see.

Although early October snowfalls aren't unusual for the region, a storm of such magnitude happens only once every decade or two on the Plains, National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Trimarchi said.

"I couldn't say when the last time we've had one like this. It's been quite a while," Trimarchi said.

The cold front is moving slowly east and expanding south and will meet up with the remnants of Tropical Storm Karen on Saturday or Sunday, after that storm makes landfall along the Gulf Coast.

Though much of the Midwest and Sou theast may get soaked, it won't be as devastating as past combination storms, such as Superstorm Sandy, said William Bunting, operations chief at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. Sandy resulted from the merging of cold fronts and a tropical storm.

The Midwest, especially Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, are at most risk for large thunderstorms, tornadoes and hail, "perhaps baseball-sized hail," Bunting said.

In Nebraska, the National Weather Service said a possible tornado caused severe damage to an area south of Wayne.

Large hail and powerful winds were forecast for northwest Oklahoma later Friday, while heavy rain settled in parts of Iowa and was expected to swoop northeast across the region into Wisconsin.

Snow also was still falling across northern Colorado on Friday, though no major problems were being reported.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Powerful Autumn Storms Hit the Midwest
Autumn Storm

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jbjg24m

not a damn thing we can do about this

October 05 2013 at 7:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
philsun73

I live west of that big storm. No snow in the valleys. Mountains getting an early coating. Temperatures dropping, prematurely, as the trees are still summer green. Looks like we're going to have to bundle up this winter, or just hunker down, and hibernate.

October 05 2013 at 3:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
isawondfl

And this is news? There is nothing new with them getting snow in October.

Stop all of the fear mongering.

It seems like even the weather channel wants to make us afraid of everything.

October 05 2013 at 2:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
brian

Comet weather

October 04 2013 at 11:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ACROPOLIS MARBLE

looks like they still are deliberately causing Haarp, come on two miles wide, why, what is the reasoning to create such large storm cells? can they stop already!!!

October 04 2013 at 11:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ACROPOLIS MARBLE's comment
rsquabitx

Next time you comment, get your thought process together and take some time to write effectively. I feel you are on the right track but most people will ignore you if they can not understand you. By the way HAARP has been down for over 4 months this is probably rebound. that does not invalidate your post but it is important.

October 05 2013 at 12:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
isawondfl

This is not any different than other years there. It has nothing to do with HARP.
You are afraid of something that is totally normal there.

October 05 2013 at 2:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
floki53

"...snow was blamed for the deaths of three people who were killed in a traffic accident on snow-slicked U.S. 20 in northeast Nebraska." I'm sorry the people got killed, but it must have been in northwest Nebraska. Northeast Nebraska had the tornadoes, and was it mild there.

October 04 2013 at 11:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
cvsats09

It's interesting to hear this type of news about the lower 48 States. Up here in Anchorage, Alaska, it has been in the mid to upper 50's during all of this bad weather that everyone else has been getting. Our evenings have been in the low 30's. A few of the mountains around Anchorage has termination dust on the tops of the mountains, but when the sun comes up, it melts the snow off the south side of the mountains. Good luck to all of you in the lower 48. We already have our snow tires on our vehicles to prepare for the bad weather.

October 04 2013 at 10:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chirobingo

ok... hurricane in the s.e. Snow storms in the n.w. tornadoes in the c. ... so who wins??? nobody!!!

October 04 2013 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chirobingo's comment
isawondfl

It is called "weather". It is what it is and there is no cause and there is nothing man can do to change it.
Get used to it.

October 05 2013 at 2:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lewtheprof

It must truly pain the [liberal] folks on most news outlets mightily, to have to run a story like this. What next, the ice returning to the polar regions? Oh snap, seems that's already happening too. Just what oh what is this whipped into a lather, global warming world of ours coming to?

October 04 2013 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lewtheprof's comment
charlie

oh snap??? What are you? ten? Have you bothered to actually look at any programs related to the polar caps melting? DO you know why the ocean levels are rising? Its not because of the ice thats already in the water but because of the runoff from melting caps. I'm sure that logic is over your head but oh well. Secondly, you aslo realize that storms like this actually prove that the climate is changing and become more unstable not the opposite. You see snow and the first thing that hits that braincell is Oh! it must be getting colder...... /smh

October 04 2013 at 10:39 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to charlie's comment
mandmjlrscvca

Global warning is as phony as cubic zirconia is represented as a diamond... You ask... what?? Well, the CZ has been re marketed under Van Pler diamond, Diamondaire, Diamonique, Diamonelle, Russian Ice and many more........the same as Al Gore has done.... He is selling Armageddon of a sort and is doing so to make $$$$$$$$$$ from fools. And there are a great deal of others making $$$$ too from the fraud........ so get the comparison..... Just a marketing scheme full of lies....... you know.... like when OBama marketed himself and lied like a rug in an Iranian rug market....

October 04 2013 at 9:52 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to mandmjlrscvca's comment
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