Severe Storms Slam the Heartland, and Now Comes the Cold

PHOTO: Rubble from the rear wall of the Stockyards Lodge No. 1244 lies atop parked cars in a parking lot, Oct. 3, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas.PlayRon T. Ennis/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram/AP Photo
WATCH Battering Storm 1,200 Miles Long From Dallas to Chicago

More than 250 severe-storm reports came in Thursday from Texas to Missouri to Alabama – almost all with damaging winds. Winds gusted over 80 mph in parts of Oklahoma and Texas causing widespread damage, knocking down trees and power lines last night. Next, a blast of cold air will cover the nation's midsection.

PHOTO: More than 250 reports of severe weather over the past 24 hours - most of those being damaging wind.ABC
More than 250 reports of severe weather over the past 24 hours - most of those being damaging wind.

At one point nearly 300,000 were without power in Northern Texas from the severe weather. Some of the worst damage was found in Arlington, where schools were closed today. Two apartment complexes suffered structural damage and a roof was blown off of a dormitory at Arlington Baptist College. In Fort Worth, a brick wall toppled onto parked cars in the historic Stockyards. A teacher is recovering after she was struck by lightning in Denison on her way to her car while she was holding an umbrella. Surveys in the Dallas area have confirmed straight-line winds caused this extensive damage, not tornadoes. The strongest winds were found in Arlington, topping 90 mph! In Dallas, winds were about 85 mph, with a confirmed 100 mph gust at the top of a broadcast tower.

Hundreds of thousands were without power in parts of Arkansas and Louisiana where trees also toppled onto cars. A tree fell on a home in Malvern, killing a man inside. An infant, also inside the home, was rescued. Three tornadoes across Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama have ripped through with these storms.

As this cold front and the associated line of storms move east, the intensity weakens and will mainly just be rain. That rain, heavy at times will impact the East Coast states today, from Florida to New York before the fronts move off the East Coast later tonight. The Northeast will begin to see rain with gusty winds moving in tonight through Saturday.

PHOTO: 7 states are under frost and freeze warnings for Saturday morning.ABC
7 states are under frost and freeze warnings for Saturday morning.

Behind this frontal boundary are cold temperatures – some 20 degrees below normal. Frost and freeze warnings are up for many states in the Northern Plains for tomorrow morning, where temperatures will be in the 30s. It’s not just the cold, but snow! Wrap-around moisture from this system will mix with the cold air behind it and produce the first light snowfall of the season for parts of the Upper Midwest. In Minnesota flakes are already flying!