* Winter storm system brings snow to U.S. South
* Tornado touches down in Mobile, Ala.
* Two killed in weather-related accidents
(Includes damage from other tornadoes, adds death)
MOBILE, Ala., Dec 25 (Reuters) - A major winter storm system
swept through the southern United States on Tuesday, spawning
tornadoes in several states and killing two people in
weather-related road accidents.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said a tornado struck
Mobile, Alabama, home to about 200,000 people, at about 5 p.m.
local time (2300 GMT). There were reports of damage to trees and
widespread power outages, along with some structural damage, but
no injuries or fatalities.
Tornadoes also touched down in Mississippi, Texas and
Louisiana, flattening houses and causing some injuries,
according to the NWS.
The wild Christmas weather was expected to continue into
early Wednesday - the NWS' Storm Prediction Center forecasted
the development of "a few strong tornadoes and thunderstorm wind
damage over parts of the southeast" this evening and overnight.
It warned that tornadoes at night at this time of year can
be particularly dangerous because they are usually fast-moving
and obscured by rain and darkness. Areas mostly likely to be hit
by strong storms include southern and eastern Alabama, the
Florida Panhandle and southwest Georgia, the NWS warned.
Tuesday's storms also contributed to a 21-vehicle pile-up
that shut down a major highway in Oklahoma City and tens of
thousands of power outages.
A Texas man died after an accident involving a tree in the
road, and another person died in a weather-related accident on
I-44 in Oklahoma, according to local authorities.
The storm was expected to evolve into a blizzard from
Arkansas to southern Illinois on Tuesday night, with snowfall of
up to a foot (30.5 cm) in some areas, according to
Accuweather.com senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski
warned on the website that travel will be "extremely
treacherous, if not impossible, as the snow clogs roads, such as
interstates 24, 55 and 57, and the blowing snow severely lowers
The Indiana governor's office issued an advisory Tuesday
evening that "non-essential employees" who live in areas where
snow emergencies have been declared do not have to come to work.
The snowstorm will shift on Wednesday to the eastern Great
Lakes and northeastern region, with a blizzard warning in effect
for Cleveland starting at 7 a.m. on Wednesday (1200 GMT),
forecasters said. Cleveland could get up to a foot of snow,
according to the NWS.
Southern Indiana is under a blizzard warning starting early
Wednesday morning, according to NWS meteorologist Crystal
Pettet. Indianapolis could see its biggest snowfall in four
years, with a possibility of 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30.5 cm) of
"Conditions should be pretty bad in time for rush hour,"
In the town of McNeill in southern Mississippi, an apparent
tornado destroyed 12 homes and injured eight people, though none
of the injuries appear life-threatening, said Danny Manley,
director of the Pearl River County Emergency Management Agency.
Manley said the homes could not be rebuilt, as some had lost
roofs and their top stories and one was smashed by a tree.
Another apparent tornado hit Centreville, Mississippi, in
the southwestern part of the state, injuring one person,
destroying a trailer and heavily damaging other homes and
buildings, according to Tim Destri, a NWS meteorologist in New
A tornado destroyed a building 13 miles (21 km) southeast of
Crockett, Texas, and a bank lost a section of its roof,
according to Accuweather.com.
Freezing drizzle overnight led to 10 separate collisions on
Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City early on Tuesday, said Betsy
Randolph, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The
city also got a rare Christmas snowfall.
The 21-vehicle pile-up included three tractor-trailers and
shut down the westbound lanes for about five hours, she said.
Twelve people were taken to hospitals, and troopers were
checking on the severity of their injuries.
Ahead of the storm's path, parts of eastern West Virginia
are under a winter storm warning. Ice accumulations of up to
half an inch (1.25 cm) are expected in higher elevations, the
(Reporting by Kaija Wilkinson, Ian Simpson and Mary Wisniewski;
Editing by Sandra Maler, Todd Eastham and Paul Simao)