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As Severe Storms Continue to Sweep Across the US, the Death Toll Rises to 43

The governors of New Mexico and Missouri have declared states of emergency due to heavy precipitation, while the governor of Texas has declared a state of disaster in four counties, following deadly tornadoes.

by Reuters and VICE News
Dec 28 2015, 5:25pm

Photo by Mike Stone/EPA

A severe weather system continues to engulf large swaths of the United States on Monday after a holiday weekend of tornadoes, heavy rainfall, blizzards, and flooding took the lives of at least 43, according to Reuters.

States of emergency have been declared in Missouri and New Mexico and a state of disaster covers four Texas counties.

The low-pressure system is expected to turn north on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service, shifting the winter storm threat into upstate New York and the wider New England region.

After a blizzard pummeled the high plains through the holiday weekend, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency on Sunday, mobilizing the National Guard to rescue stranded drivers.

The Weather Channel reported between two and three feet of snow in the eastern part of the state, while violent winds are said to be driving snowdrifts eight to ten feet tall.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared four counties to be in a state of disaster, including Dallas County, after at least 11 people were killed in the Dallas area over the weekend by tornadoes that brought winds reaching 200 miles per hour, according to Reuters.

An estimated 800 homes were damaged in the area and numerous people were reported injured.

"It is total devastation," Lieutenant Pedro Barineau, a police spokesman in Garland, Texas, told Reuters. "It is a very difficult time to be struck by such a horrible storm the day after Christmas."

Widespread flooding has swept Illinois and Missouri, where Governor Jay Nixon also declared a state of emergency on Sunday. According to Weather Underground, eight people died Saturday night in the Missouri floods.

The National Weather Service has maintained severe weather warnings across large parts of the southeastern and central United States, including tornado watches and warnings across parts of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as flash flood warnings in Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas.

The precipitation that has fallen in the past week is expected to fill the Mississippi River to record levels.

"The moisture from all of this is flowing into the Mississippi and we are looking at potential record flooding, as the water moves downstream," said Bob Henson, a meteorologist with Weather Underground.

The holiday storms cancelled an estimated 1,500 flights across the country on Sunday, about half of which occurred in Dallas, according to Reuters. While the National Weather Service said it expected the storm to lift by Tuesday, severe flooding and travel disruptions could linger until later in the week.

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