Stormy weather took the fun out of Christmas Eve for people who faced roads slippery with snow and sleet, no electricity for their holiday lights and homes damaged by tornadoes.
“We could do with a little less of the white Christmas,” grumbled Doug Wirtz in Guymon, Okla., which had 10 inches of snow by Wednesday morning.
A storm moving across the middle of the nation spread rain all the way to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts and dragged along snow and sleet that stretched from the Ohio Valley back across the Plains to Colorado.
Thunderstorms in the South spun off tornadoes during the morning in the southeastern corner of Alabama. At least five people, including a baby, suffered minor injuries when one twister hit Wicksburg, Ala., and a mobile home park just outside town.
Last-minute Christmas shoppers in Kansas and Missouri slid around on streets coated with sleet and heavy snow. Dodge City, Kan., got a 24-hour snowfall of 11.6 inches, a record for December. In Springfield, Mo., heavy overnight rain flooded creeks, ditches and roads.
One traffic death was blamed on the weather in Kansas.
The biggest worry was unprepared drivers, usually from out of state, said Brent Gardner, an insurance agent who had to drive from Wichita, Kan., to Dodge City. “If you stomped on the brakes real good you could start sliding,” he said.
The storm had rolled out of the Southwest, where a 170-mile stretch of Interstate 40 east of Albuquerque was shut down by snow and ice on Tuesday and didn’t reopen until Wednesday. An unknown number of travelers were stranded overnight.
Hundreds of people were still without power for a second day Wednesday in Roswell, N.M. The city of 48,000 people got nearly a foot of snow Monday and early Tuesday, about the normal total for an entire year.
The Rev. Jim Jacobson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Guymon, Okla., said he wasn’t thrilled with the idea of a white Christmas, but “the landscape is pretty bleak. The snow does kind of decorate it up a little bit.”