Snow lets up in West, Plains; South gets drenched

Snow tops a pumpkin carved for Halloween that sits on the rail outside a home in Denver. / AP photo

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) " While residents in some Western and Plains states were digging out Friday after an early blast of snow, heavy rain and strong winds that toppled trees, power lines and church steeples lashed parts of the South, leaving one person dead.

The rain was forecast to let up Friday, but the National Weather Service cautioned that the ground was so saturated that even a modest amount of additional rain could cause flash flooding from the western Gulf Coast to the mid-Mississippi Valley.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency after storms caused flooded roads, power outages and wind damage in the northwestern part of the state. A 20-year-old driver was killed Thursday when his car ran under a toppled tree near Shreveport, authorities said.

Meanwhile, the snowstorm that walloped Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas earlier in the week tapered off, but some roads across the region remained treacherous.

Gusty winds and blowing snow kept nearly all major highways in southeast Wyoming shut down. U.S. Highway 20 at the north end of the Nebraska Panhandle reopened into Wyoming. Interstate 80 remained closed west of North Platte to the Wyoming state line.

In northern Colorado, northbound Interstate 25 from Wellington to the Wyoming state line remained shut down, while highways in eastern Colorado and western Kansas, including Interstates 70 and 76, reopened.

The storm, which began Tuesday, had spread 3 feet of snow and left much higher drifts across parts of northern Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.

About 15 inches fell in the Deadwood, S.D., area, causing officials to shut down Mount Rushmore National Memorial. It reopened Friday morning.

Winter weather advisories remained in effect Friday for southeast Wyoming and western Nebraska.

Meanwhile, flood warnings stretch from the western Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes, with flash flood warnings in effect for eastern Arkansas, western Tennesseee, western Kentucky and southeast Missouri.

Several tornadoes touched down in Louisiana and Arkansas on Thursday. A steeple blew off a church in Shreveport, La., hitting a car. The 57-year-old driver had to be pulled out by rescuers and suffered broken bones, authorities said.

Caddo Parish Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick said a sheriff's substation south of Shreveport flooded with about 8 inches of water Friday. Electrical equipment and personnel were moved to a nearby church. Chadwick said deputies used boats to rescue people from a subdivision with flooded roads.

Heavy rain across Arkansas also stranded an unknown number of people in their homes, while strong winds damaged buildings and knocked over trees and utility lines.

In Harrison, Lori Hudson blamed a change in drainage patterns for an ankle-high flood in her home.

"I've got a river running through my house," Hudson said.

In Pine Bluff, part of the roof of a Walmart store blew off during storms Thursday night. Among the damage at the First Assembly of God Church, the steeple was bent over by the strong winds.

"The steeple almost looked like a witch's hat," Pine Bluff police spokesman Lt. Bob Rawlinson said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Barrington Broadcasting is a member of the AP Network.