US winter storm moves east with millions under weather warnings

At least two people have been killed as a powerful winter storm sweeps east across the US, spreading tornadoes in southern states and blanketing others with snow.

A young boy and his mother were killed in Louisiana when their home was destroyed by a tornado, police say.

The massive storm also brought blizzard-like conditions to the Midwest, with roads and schools closed and some areas reporting 4 ft (1.2 m) of snow.

About 4,500 flights have been delayed and hundreds cancelled.

About 500,000 people in four states – Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota and Minnesota – are being warned about blizzards, with high winds and heavy snow making travel difficult. Millions more across the country are under less strict winter weather warnings.

Severe storms are forecast along the Gulf Coast, including in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Florida. There are also tornado warnings in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Rescuers searched for hours before finding the mother and son who died in Louisiana, police say, after a tornado destroyed the family home in a rural area near the city of Shreveport.

“We couldn’t even find the house he described with the address. Everything was gone,” Sheriff Steve Prator told local television station KSLA. He added that the child’s father had reported them missing.

In the small town of Farmerville, about 100 miles away, at least 25 people were injured after a tornado, according to local news outlet KNOE.

At least a dozen tornadoes touched down in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi on Tuesday, injuring residents and destroying homes and buildings.

More were reported on Wednesday, as Louisiana’s governor declared a state of emergency.

Most of the US is likely to feel some impact from the storm, with cold weather and snow forecast as it moves east in the coming days.

“It’s a pretty powerful storm system,” Rich Otto, a meteorologist at the Weather Prediction Center, told the BBC. “This one is slightly larger than the average winter storm.”

According to FlightAware.com, the severe weather over the past two days has also resulted in hundreds of flight disruptions at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Texas and Denver International Airport in Colorado.

The storm also crossed over into Canada, bringing heavy snow and high winds to the country’s southern Prairie region, including the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Freezing rain and other winter conditions are expected to hit the upper Midwest and northeastern U.S. on Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

The storm system began hitting the US last Friday, bringing strong winds and snow to parts of California.

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