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Storm brings white Christmas, tornado threat in plains states

WASHINGTON - A major winter storm brought a rare white Christmas to the southern U.S. plains Tuesday, contributing to a 21-vehicle pileup that shut down a major highway in Oklahoma, thousands of power outages and the death of a Texas man.

The storm system surging east from Kansas and the Texas Panhandle included tornados and severe thunderstorms along its southern fringe, from southeastern Texas to Alabama, the National Weather Service said.

The service reported a tornado warning for the Mobile, Alabama area late Tuesday afternoon.

CenterPoint Energy reported more than 20,000 customers without power in the Houston area Tuesday afternoon.

The storm is expected to expected to evolve into a blizzard from Arkansas to southern Illinois Tuesday night, with snowfall of up to a foot in some areas, according to Accuweather.com.

The snowstorm will shift Wednesday to the eastern Great Lakes and northeast.

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