INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Heavy sleet — part of a storm system that caused tornadoes in the Houston area — covered roads, vehicles, homes and buildings from central and northern Indiana to much of southeast Michigan on Wednesday.
About six inches of snow is expected in the Detroit area, and four inches of snow was reported in eastern Indiana, southwest of Fort Wayne, by noon, Maddie Johnson of the National Weather Service in northern Indiana said.
The storm on Wednesday is expected to bring destructive winds to parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, forecasters said. Winter weather warnings have been distributed from southern Missouri to Maine, with 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of snow expected in areas of New England, according to the National Weather Service.
Fort Wayne, Indiana has seen numerous accidents due to snowfall on the roads.
“People are moving off the highways,” Johnson added. “They’re just going too fast for the conditions.”
North of Indianapolis in Hamilton County, several power outages were reported due to sleet accumulating on power lines, meteorologist Gregory Melo of the Indianapolis weather service office said.
By about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, 2.8 inches were recorded in Indianapolis, and although it was still snowing, it was expected to end by noon. Total snowfall is forecast to be between 5 and 8 inches north and northeast of Indianapolis by mid-evening.
“This is one of the first heavy snows we’ve had,” said Scott Cabahuatan, deputy director of public services for Wayne County, which includes Detroit. “This snowfall is worrying in terms of being wet, heavy snow and not lighter snow.”
Cabahuatan said crews would clear just under 5,000 miles of roadway in one regular run. “We will have about 100 pieces of equipment and operators working at any given time to sprinkle and clear the roads of snow and ice,” he added.
Snow is also expected later in the week and over the weekend. “We expect many consecutive days of work here and in trucks,” Cabahuatan said.
Schools and businesses remained closed Wednesday in parts of Oklahoma, where total snowfall in central and eastern parts of the state was 1 to 6 inches (3 to 15 centimeters). More than 160,000 homes and businesses were left without power Wednesday morning in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri after heavy snow fell in the Ozarks a day earlier.
Forecasters declared a rare tornado emergency in the Houston area Tuesday as the storm system passed through the densely populated area. Significant damage was reported in cities east of Houston, but there were no reports of casualties.
In Louisiana, three people suffered “mild to moderate” injuries when their mobile homes were overturned or destroyed after a tornado hit the Morell Lane area north of Baton Rouge, the Pointe Coupee County Sheriff’s Office said.
In Texas, several businesses in Pasadena, east of Houston, were severely affected, including the city’s animal shelter.
The homeowner reported from Wayne, Michigan. Associated Press contributors Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Arkansas, David Phillip of Pasadena, Texas, and Sean Murphy of Oklahoma City contributed to this report.