Storms systems brought tornadoes to the East Coast — killing four in Virginia alone — and heavy snow to the Midwest, causing hundreds of flight cancelations and power outages that left hundreds of thousands across several states in the dark. A girl in Michigan died following a three-vehicle crash on a snowy roadway.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Wednesday night after tornadoes damaged homes and left thousands across the state without power.
Elsewhere, officials in South Carolina said a man was killed Wednesday when a tree fell on him.
In Virginia, the tiny town of Waverly took the brunt of the storm. Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said a 2-year-old child and two men, ages 50 and 26, were killed there during the storm. Their bodies were found about 300 yards from their mobile home.
At least five structures were damaged in the town of approximately 2,000; roads leading into town had to be closed because of downed trees and debris tossed by winds gusting to 60 mph, Geller said.
In Appomattox County, a funnel cloud left an eight- to 10-mile path of destruction. One man was killed and seven injured, state police said.
At least 15 structures were destroyed and 25 injuries were reported when the storm passed through Essex County and the town of Tappahannock, about 45 miles northeast of Richmond, state police said. The injuries ranged from minor to serious, but there were no confirmed fatalities.
In Waverly, witnesses said the storm swept through with little warning.
Timothy Williams said a friend had just come by to take his new car for a drive when the storm hit.
"It picked the car right off the ground, and put it right back on the ground," said Williams, 44. He said they remained in the car until the storm passed.
The storm blew down electrical wires "in a big ball of fire, thrashing all about each other," Williams said. He said he and his friend escaped shaken but uninjured.
In southern Michigan, a 6-year-old girl died after a three-vehicle crash. State police say Harlyn Radley died after the crash Wednesday afternoon near Battle Creek when a car driven by her mother lost control and collided with another vehicle. A third vehicle then struck the wreckage. Police say speed and heavy, wet snow were factors in the crash.
In South Carolina, Darlington County Corner Todd Hardee said in a statement that Michael Gaines Sr., 58, had stopped on a road near his home Wednesday to remove debris from the road when a pine tree fell on him. Sheriff Wayne Byrd said the victim was being a good Samaritan when he was killed.
The line of storms moved across Pennsylvania and the New York City area Wednesday night, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that knocked down trees and caused scattered power outages.
In the Midwest, a powerful storm brought heavy snow and biting winds, leading to school closings in several states and mass flight cancellations at Chicago airports.
The Chicago Department of Aviation reported more than 1,100 flights had been canceled at the city's two major airports by Wednesday evening.
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On Tuesday, one of the hardest-hit areas along the Gulf Coast was a recreational vehicle park in the town of Convent, in southern Louisiana. RVs were tossed about and lay on top of wrecked cars and pickup trucks. Two people were killed there, and 31 injured people were taken to area hospitals, St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin said.
In Mississippi, 73-year-old Dale Purvis died of blunt-force trauma in a mobile home west of Purvis, Lamar County Coroner Cody Creel said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said an apparent tornado in the Pensacola area significantly damaged more than 70 homes and 24 apartments, leaving three people with minor injuries.
Residents in LaPlace, La., were cleaning up Wednesday after a tornado ripped up trees, tore roofs from houses and terrified local residents. Nearly 200 homes were damaged.
Rose Fuselier, 80, had a gaping hole where her home's front window once stood.
"The whole backyard is covered with trees, and then my shed is torn up, too. The roof is gone, and the siding is partially gone," she said. Still, she said others suffered damage worse than hers: "I lucked out. I lucked out."