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Severe storm system that has already killed 2 moves toward eastern US

Posted: 6:16 AM, Dec 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-28 11:16:56Z

Two people have died as a result of a severe storm system that caused blizzard conditions in the US Midwest and torrential rain and flood threats in the South.

And the storm system is not done yet, as it is forecast to bring heavy rain further east on Friday.

Over 11 inches of rain already has fallen across some localized areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, where flash flood emergencies were issued overnight Thursday into Friday morning. Over 50 million people remain under flood and flash flood watches from New Jersey down to Louisiana.

The snow across the northern Plains and upper Midwest will wind down throughout the Friday morning hours, but blizzard warnings remain through 7 a.m. ET due to wind gusts of up to 55 mph. In addition, blowing snow will limit visibility.

The storm system has been causing major headaches for holiday travelers heading into New Year's weekend.

Live: Track the storms yourself

"This storm system was always comprised of two threats -- one for blizzard conditions and another for severe weather," CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said.

11 inches of rain in parts of the South

Eleven inches of rain have fallen in areas of Washington Parish, Louisiana, and Walthall County, Mississippi, according to the National Weather Service office in Slidell, Louisiana.

NWS Meteorologist Bob Wagner told CNN the weather system has stalled in this one small area for the last five or six hours.

"There's still rain sitting on the Louisiana Coast that could keep streaming on them for the next 3 to 6 hours," Wagner said. He said he's heard reports of some water rescues, but luckily the area is sparsely populated.

A 58-year-old woman in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, died after a tree fell on her camper trailer Wednesday night, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards tells CNN affiliate WDSU.

Coastal parts of Texas were walloped Thursday after severe weather caused in-flight injuries and canceled a football game a day earlier in the Dallas area.

'Our town has come to a complete standstill' in the Midwest

In addition, whiteout conditions in parts of the Midwest have caused several road closures and general travel issues.

Kansas State Highway Patrol reported a weather-related death on Interstate 70 near Oakley. The crash involved a commercial vehicle and a passenger car, Trooper Tod Hileman said.

About 1 million people were under blizzard warnings Thursday in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett said.

"Snow with high winds and low visibility will make travel in this area dangerous if not impossible at times," Garrett said.

The storm system was expected to dump 6 to 12 inches of snow in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, Norman said.

In Kansas, blizzard conditions closed a 75-mile stretch on Interstate 70 from Colby to WaKeeney as well as roads from west of Garden City to the Colorado state line. Blizzard conditions over the Northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest are expected to end early Friday morning.

Roads in parts of central and northern Minnesota are covered with ice and snow. The Minnesota Department of Transportation urged drivers to wait for conditions to improve if travel isn't necessary.

In South Dakota, snow and mixed precipitation will worsen as heavy snow combines with wind. In Nebraska, whiteout conditions and crashes forced the closure of Interstate 80 between Lexington and North Platte.

Sharon Kay Oelkers captured video of snow blinding her town of Elwood, Nebraska, on Thursday morning.

"Our town has come to a complete standstill," Oelkers told CNN. "I work at the local grocery store and even we are closed and we never close."