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Strong storm system sparks rare December tornado in Midwest

Scott Olson/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A storm system is impacting the Midwest and 29 states are on alert for damaging winds, heavy snow and avalanches.

A tornado threat was issued for Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, with a tornado touching down in Plainview, Minnesota, just outside Rochester, on Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service. This was the first time Minnesota has recorded a tornado in December.

There is already snow on the ground in parts of Minnesota where more tornadoes could occur Wednesday into Thursday.

Heavy rain is expected for Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas on Thursday and Friday. There could be between 2 to 4 inches of rain in the area, which was severely impacted by the deadly storms last weekend.

Forty-four deadly tornadoes tore through nine states last weekend, killing at least 88 people. Kentucky was by far the hardest hit.

Severe storms were impacting Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon and into the evening across the Mid-Missouri Valley to the Upper Mississippi Valley.

"Widespread severe wind gusts of 60-75 mph along with at least a few tornadoes are likely from late afternoon through this evening," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Embedded gusts of 80 to 100 miles per hour and a strong tornado or two are also possible, particularly across western to northern Iowa and southeast Minnesota.

Hundreds of thousands of customers in the area -- from Colorado to Kansas and Minnesota -- were without power at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Areas from Texas to New York could see very strong winds ahead of the storm. Wind gusts could be between 40 to 70 mph.

There is an avalanche warning in place for the West, where 5 feet of snow was reported in the mountains. More snow is still expected.

This storm system has already brought more than 8 inches of rainfall in Southern California. The state also saw mudslides and debris flow, forcing some people to be rescued. There is also an avalanche warning issued for California's Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Whiteout weather conditions shut down Interstate 90 from California to Nevada Monday night. Parts of Northern California saw rockslides and mudslides.

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