Flooding in Kentucky left five people dead on a winter weekend that included snow in the Midwest and New England, apparent tornadoes in the South and record heat in New York.

Almost half a million customers were reportedly without power across Michigan and New England as winter weather hampered early holiday travel. More than 200 flights were canceled in Chicago as New Yorkers strolled through balmy Central Park in shirt-sleeves.

Strong winds, rain and at least one reported tornado pummeled Kentucky, where officials said a vehicle carrying five people drove into floodwaters from the Rolling Fork River near New Hope, about 50 miles southeast of Louisville. Three people were killed and two escaped, according to the Kentucky Emergency Management agency. The survivors were hospitalized for hypothermia.

"This is such a tragic loss; our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims' families," Joe Prewitt, the Nelson County Emergency Management director, said in a statement. "This is a stark reminder why we caution people to never ... attempt to drive through, walk through or allow children to play in floodwaters."

A person was killed near Carrollton, Ky., after being pinned beneath an all-terrain vehicle that flipped in a flooded creek, authorities said. In Ballard County, Ky., officials found a fifth person's body after discovering a car in a flooded ditch.

The same weather system sparked reported tornadoes in eastern Arkansas and brought violent storms to Mississippi, leaving at least three people dead.

Farther north, parts of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin were buried beneath 8 inches of snow.

More than 200 flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Sunday, according to FlightAware.com.

Freezing rain and snow hit Michigan, and misery befell drivers in upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, where as much as an inch of ice coated the roads. The Associated Press reported that 440,000 homes and businesses in Michigan, upstate New York and northern New England were without power.

Those scenes contrasted with record warm weather in several Eastern cities including Philadelphia, New York and Newark, N.J. New York reached 71 degrees, breaking the high of 63 degrees set in 1949 and 1998, the National Weather Service said.

The high temperatures were brought by a southwesterly flow of air from Florida up the East Coast, according to Jim Bunker, the observing program leader at the weather service's Mount Holly, N.J., bureau. Although the warming system brought record highs, Bunker said, "it's not unheard of. It's not one of those freak-of-nature sort of things."

matt.pearce@latimes.com