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Weekly wrap-up: Blizzard forces DOT to pull plows off Nebraska roads; Tornadoes strike South

A major winter storm tracked from the Rockies to the Great Lakes this week, bringing a blizzard which caused the shutdown of major roadways.

From Monday into Tuesday, heavy snow and whiteout conditions forced major interstates including I-70 and I-80 to be shut down at times from Colorado to Iowa. Blizzard conditions across the central Plains were so severe that the Nebraska Department of Roads had to pull snowplows off the roads in one portion of the state.

The heaviest snow fell from south-central Nebraska into northwestern Iowa with totals over a foot. Road conditions remained poor into Wednesday, especially in areas such as Des Moines, Iowa, as heavy winds continued to whip snow onto the roads.

Across Minnesota, there were 370 crashes reported from 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. CST, the Minnesota State Patrol said. There were 36 injuries, two of which were considered serious.

While the blizzard blanketed much of the central Plains and Upper Midwest, a severe weather outbreak unfolded across the lower Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley on Tuesday.

According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, there were 18 total tornado reports across Alabama and Mississippi and extensive damage was reported in several areas.

In McMullen, Alabama, a town near the Mississippi border, 75 residents were displaced after an EF2 tornado touched down in the area. No fatalities were reported, but two people in McMullen did suffer minor injuries, according to AL.com.

Structural damage reportedly occurred to athletic fields and several field buildings at East Mississippi Community College in the town of Scooba. Roofs were blown off several homes in the town of Collinsville, Mississippi. Damage to barns and a church was also reported.

"Cold air from the Rockies clashed with warmer-than-usual air from the Gulf, creating a dynamic setup for violent storms," AccuWeather Meteorologist Becky Elliot said. "This type of structure is more common in March or April."

Two more tornadoes were reported on Wednesday, including one which struck Fort Stewart, located just outside of Savannah, Georgia. No injuries were reported.

AMAZING: Monster wedge tornado touches down in Alabama

Following quickly on the midweek storm's heels, an Atlantic storm spread snow and led to a slippery Friday morning commute from Delaware to Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom was pounded by two disruptive storms as Gertrude and Henry brought heavy rain and gusty winds.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski, Gertrude will be remembered as a quick-hitting windstorm that brought the worst impacts to the northern British Isles from Thursday, Jan. 28, to Friday, Jan 29.

The storms brought disruptions to rail service, closed roadways and cut power to thousands.

Gertrude brought wind gusts of 132 mph (212 km/h) to the summit of Cairngorm Mountain in Scotland, while wind gusts over 50 mph (80 km/h) were common from Henry across Northern Ireland and Scotland Monday afternoon, AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Doughty stated.

Gertrude and Henry were the seventh and eighth named winter storms by the UK Met Office this season. Following Henry's departure, rare rainbow clouds appeared in the U.K. sky.

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+.