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Weekly wrap-up: Deadly flooding hits Missouri; December ends as warmest on record in eastern US

The final week of 2015 featured several outbursts of violent and disruptive weather across the United States.

Severe storms struck northeastern Texas Saturday, Dec. 26, bringing flooding rain and multiple tornadoes. The Dallas Fort Worth, Texas, National Weather Service office confirmed that 12 tornadoes touched down killing 11 people on Dec. 26.

In the town of Garland, Texas, an EF4 tornado, unleashed winds greater than 200 mph, left a trail of destruction. An EF3 tornado damaged at least 600 homes and injured at least 23 people, in Rowlett, Texas. As a result of the storms, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for the affected counties.

Heavy December rainfall and rising river levels contributed to the deaths of at least 20 people in Illinois and Missouri as thousands of homes were threatened by floodwaters and major roadways were closed.

In response to the catastrophic flooding, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard to help protect evacuated communities and direct traffic.

Record high flood levels were reached along portions of the Meramec River at Eureka, Valley Park and Arnold, Missouri, during Wednesday, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. The AP reported that an estimated 100 homes were damaged in Arnold, while hundreds of houses in Eureka suffered damage.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered when waters from the Mississippi River topped the levees in West Alton, Missouri, on Tuesday.

Shelters were opened and disaster workers from the American Red Cross were on hand throughout the Midwest to assist those who were displaced or affected from the flooding and tornadoes.

The same storm that produced the tornadoes and major flooding also unleashed wintry weather to parts of the Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast. Travel advisories were issued after low visibility and icy and snow-covered roads were reported. Sleet, freezing rain and snow fell across these regions.

On Monday, Dec. 28, Chicago received 1.9 inches of sleet, breaking the previous record of 1.5 inches from Feb. 4, 1924. On the same day, Green Bay, Wisconsin, set a new snowfall record of 11.5 inches, breaking the record of 4.9 inches from 1968.

From Monday through 4:30 p.m. CST Tuesday, there was 350 crashes, with 33 injuries, across the state of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Patrol said. More than 68,000 were without power in Michigan at the height of the storm.

Despite pockets of chilly air during the month, dozens of cities across the eastern United States will go down in the record books with the warmest December.

Some records were broken dating back to the 1880s.

Temperatures this December were more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the previous records along much of the Interstate 95 corridor from New York City to Washington, D.C., as well as Burlington, Vermont.

The two distinct periods with temperatures well above average occurred between Dec. 10 to Dec. 18 and Dec. 21 to Dec. 27. Many eastern U.S. cities had their warmest Christmas Eve on record as highs soared into the 70s from Washington, D.C., to New York City.

Meanwhile, stormy weather continued in the United Kingdom as Storm Frank battered the region with powerful winds and flooding rain. In Northern Ireland, at least 2,000 homes lost power at the height of the storm, which is the sixth named storm of the season by the UK Met office. A wind gust of 85 mph (137 km/h) was measured on the Island of South Uist.

In Summerseat, Greater Manchester floodwaters wreaked havoc by washing away a 200-year-old pub.

Several AccuWeather meteorologists and staff writers contributed content to this article.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kevin Byrne at Kevin.Byrne@accuweather.com, follow him on Twitter at @Accu_Kevin. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.