Five die in Kentucky flooding; record heat in New York

Five people were reported killed by flooding in Kentucky on a weekend that included snow in the Midwest and New England, 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. Meantime, New Yorkers strolled through Central Park in shirtsleeves. 

Kentucky officials said a vehicle carrying five people drove into floodwaters from the Rolling Fork River near New Hope, Ky., on Sunday morning. Three were killed and two escaped, according to Kentucky Emergency Management, a state agency. The survivors were hospitalized for hypothermia, the agency said.

“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 written statement. "This is a stark reminder why we caution people to never, NEVER attempt to drive through, walk through or allow children to play in floodwaters!”

Another person was killed near Carrollton, Ky., after being pinned beneath an all-terrain vehicle, which flipped over in flooded creek water, the agency reported. A fifth death happened in Ballard County, where officials found a body after discovering a car in a flooded ditch.

Hit with strong wind, rain and at least one reported tornado, Kentucky fell victim to the same storm system that saw apparent tornadoes scour eastern Arkansas and bring violent storms to Mississippi, leaving at least three dead.

The National Weather Service, in a forecast briefing, said meteorologists expected "one last round of heavy rain" to roll over an area from Alabama to western Virginia on Sunday night.

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

In Chicago, more than 100 flight departures were canceled out of O'Hare International Airport on Sunday, according to

Freezing rain and snow also hit Michigan, and misery befell drivers in upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, where as much as half an inch to 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 Sunday.

Those scenes contrasted with the record-warm weather that fell over Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York City on Sunday. New Yorkers in shorts and short sleeves could be seen in Central Park on the second day of winter.

In most of the cities, temperatures in the high 60s and lower 70s broke records held since 1998. New York reached 71 degrees, breaking the old high of 63 set in 1949 and 1998, according to the National Weather Service.

The warm temperatures were brought by a southwesterly flow of air from Florida up along the East Coast, Jim Bunker, the observing program leader at the weather service's Mount Holly, N.J., bureau, told the Los Angeles Times.

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.”

With more than 90 million Americans expected to take to the roads and the air for the holiday travel season, there's some good news.

With "no major storms" expected after the current system on the East Coast ends, according to the weather service's forecast briefing, "the weather pattern to start off the week will be turning much quieter."

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