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Weekly wrap-up: Deadly tornadoes thrash Florida; Inch of snow snarls DC traffic

Severe thunderstorms unleashed deadly tornadoes across parts of central and South Florida early Sunday morning. Two people were killed in the town of Duette, according to the Associated Press.

The National Weather Service office in Tampa Bay reported that an EF2 tornado, featuring an estimated peak wind gust of 132 mph, caused damage in the towns of Sarasota and Siesta Key between 3:17 a.m. and 3:22 a.m. A storm survey crew found damage to multiple homes and structures in the tornado's path, which was 1.14 miles in length.

Meanwhile, the deadly EF2 tornado that struck Duette tracked 9.2 miles and had an estimated peak wind gust of 127 mph. The tornado touched down at 3:35 a.m. and concluded at 3:48 a.m.

Sarasota County officials also reported 17,000 Florida Power and Light customers were without power on Sunday morning.

While Washington, D.C., began preparing for a blizzard, the city received 0.7 of an inch on Wednesday evening, which was enough to cause significant travel issues on the roadways.

President Obama's motorcade reportedly slipped and skidded on icy roads.

According to ABC News, police in Arlington, Virginia, said there were hundreds of drivers stranded. The Virginia State Police said troopers responded to 172 traffic crashes around 8 p.m. alone. Throughout the day they reported 767 crashes and 392 calls for disabled vehicles, the majority of which were in northern Virginia.

Europe experienced its most disruptive snowfall so far this season when a major winter storm swept through the Balkans last weekend. Parts of Bulgaria and Romania experienced blizzard conditions, while heavy snow and gusty winds impacted southwestern Ukraine on Sunday.

The storm caused significant travel disruptions. The AP reported that Romania's transportation minister said that 12 major roads were closed on Sunday due to snow and three ports near the Black Sea were shut down because of high winds.

According to NASA and NOAA, 2015 was globally the warmest year since records began in 1880.

The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62 F (0.90 C) above the 20th century average, NOAA said. Surpassing 2014's record by 0.29 F (0.16 C), this is the largest margin by which the annual global temperature record has been broken.

Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred since 2001. For the contiguous United States, 2015 was the second warmest and the third wettest year on record.

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+.