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US winter storms cause 10 deaths, flight cancellations, power outages

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More than 1.3cm of ice was predicted to cake highways and roads across the south and north-east from Saturday night to Sunday morning.

Atlanta

AT LEAST 10 people died, more than 1,000 flights were cancelled and hundreds of thousands were without power in five states on Saturday as a massive winter storm system dumped snow, freezing rain and hail from Texas to Michigan.

Hurricane-force wind gusts, golf-ball-sized hailstones and 5 to 13 cm of snow fell on Friday night and early Saturday as storms pushed from Texas through the South-east and Great Lakes into Maine, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

More snow with accumulations of 15 to 30cm was expected through Sunday in parts of Illinois, Michigan, northern New York and New England.

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"The real danger comes from the wind and ice accumulation," said NWS forecaster Bob Oravec in College Park Maryland.

More than 1.3cm of ice was predicted to cake highways and roads across the south and northeast from Saturday night to Sunday morning, he said.

"The ice and wind will make driving treacherous, and trees can snap and knock out power and do other damage," he said.

More than 257,000 homes and businesses were without power across Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas. The bulk of the nation's flight delays and cancellations were at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, with more than 1,000 flights cancelled and hundreds more delayed.

Tornadoes damaged or destroyed some buildings in Arkansas and Missouri, forecasters said.

NWS said more than 18 million people in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma remained at risk of tornadoes and flooding rains. Mr Oravec said that hurricane- force wind gusts of about 120kmh hit the south-east.

As the system pushes eastward, rain should end overnight in many southern states, but the north-east and New England can expect severe weather to last for another day, he said. REUTERS