Tornadoes and floods hit US
Severe weather conditions including floods and tornadoes have hit the southern states of the US Reuters

Texas, eastern New Mexico and parts of Oklahoma are under lockdown as warnings of 15in of snow and 7ft drifts follow a series of deaths from freak weather conditions across the US. In all 11 people have already died in the Lone Star state, 10 in Mississippi, seven in Missouri, six in Tennessee, five in Illinois, two in Alabama and one in Arkansas after tornadoes, flooding and severe thunderstorms swept through the regions.

Winter storm warnings are now in effect from Texas to Michigan with states further east on alert for flash floods. On 27 December the US National Weather Service confirmed three tornadoes formed part of the storms that charged through the Dallas area, killing 11 people and damaging hundreds of buildings.

Texas governor Greg Abbott has now declared a state of disaster in the state counties of Dallas, Collin, Ellis and Rockwall. A statement from the governor's office said that additional counties may be added as the situation develops.

Abbott said: "Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to those Texans who have been affected by this severe weather. Please be assured that Texas is doing everything it can to assist in the challenges our citizens are currently facing."

The tornado that swept through Dallas was described as an EF-4 tornado, in which winds gust between 166mph to 200mph. The storm system was mainly focussed in the hard-hit Dallas suburb of Garland, according to the National Weather Service in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Eight of the 11 reported deaths occurred there and 600 structures were damaged, according to Dallas Police. The damage in the nearby suburb of Rowlett was from an EF-3 tornado where wind velocity is between 136mph and 165 mph. The third tornado is understood to have driven through eastern Ellis county.

Republican political activist, and Texan Heath Mayo took to Twitter to describe the devastation from the Texas tornadoes. He said: "Trip home wouldn't be complete without a Texas tornado. Just off of I-20 near Grand Saline."

Parts of Texas have been subject to extreme swings in the weather over the past few days. Dallas had a high of 82F (28C) on Saturday, 26 December, and had dropped to 41F (5C) on Sunday, 27 December.