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Storm blows through East; 135K in dark in Arkansas

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 27, 2012 at 10:08 pm •  Published: December 27, 2012
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Earlier, the storm system spawned tornadoes on Christmas along the Gulf Coast, startling people like Bob and Sherry Sims of Mobile, Ala., who had just finished dinner.

"We heard that very distinct sound, like a freight train," said Bob Sims, who lost electricity but was grateful that he fared better than neighbors whose roofs were peeled away and porches smashed by falling trees.

In Georgiana, Ala., an 81-year-old man died Wednesday, a day after a tree fell on his home, emergency officials said.

Deaths from wind-toppled trees also were reported in Texas and Louisiana, but car crashes caused most of the fatalities. Two people were killed in Kentucky crashes, a New York man was killed after his pickup truck skidded on an icy road in northwest Pennsylvania and an Ohio teenager died after losing control of her car and smashing into an oncoming snowplow.

In Arkansas, where two people died in a head-on collision, some of those who lost electricity could be without it for as long as a week because of snapped poles and wires after ice and 10 inches of snow coated power lines, said the state's largest utility, Entergy Arkansas. By Thursday evening, power to thousands of customers had been restored, but more than 135,000 homes and businesses remained in the dark, Entergy said.

Farther east, the storm knocked out power to more than 7,000 homes and businesses in Maryland. In New Jersey, gusts of more than 70 mph were recorded along the coast, and the weather service issued a flood warning for some coastal areas. There were about 800 power outages in Vermont, but only a handful in neighboring New Hampshire.

Schools on break and workers taking holiday vacations meant that many people could avoid messy commutes, but those who had to travel were urged to avoid it.

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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York; Jim Van Anglen in Mobile, Ala.; Kelly P. Kissel in Little Rock, Ark.; Travis Loller in Nashville; Ben Nuckols in Washington; Dave Porter in Newark, N.J.; Dave Gram in Montpelier, Vt.; and Janet McMillan in Philadelphia.