KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A severe weather system blamed for five deaths plowed eastward out of the Plains on Saturday, leaving snow piled more than a foot deep and rattling the Gulf states with violent thunderstorms.
The Northeast prepared for possible coastal flooding.
The storm blew across the Plains on Friday, piling snow a foot deep in Kansas and raking Texas with high wind.
``I felt my house start shaking like the wind and I ran in here and grabbed my little girl,'' Amanda Rymer, 21, said in Haltom City, Texas. ``As soon as I moved her, the roof fell in right where she was standing.''
The storm tore roofs off houses in Rymer's neighbor and destroyed porches and garages. About a dozen tractor-trailer rigs were blown onto their sides.
One man was killed in Fort Worth by a pile of lumber that fell on him from his truck during the storm, and a police officer in Irving died when his patrol car slid on wet pavement and struck a utility pole, authorities said.
Three people were killed in Kansas in traffic accidents on highways covered with ice and slush, police said Saturday.
By midday Saturday, the system was spreading rain from Louisiana to Virginia and across much of the Ohio Valley. Lines of strong thunderstorms rolled across Louisiana and Mississippi into northern Alabama, and the National Weather Service posted tornado warnings for wide areas of Mississippi.
The weather system was forecast to strengthen when it reaches the East Coast on Sunday and form a nor'easter, a storm that follows the coast northward, with northeasterly wind driving waves and heavy rain.
``This is very odd for this time of year,'' National Weather Service meteorologist John Koch said Saturday in New York. ``This is something that you would expect to see more in the middle of winter.''
A flood watch was posted for the New York City region, as the weather service forecast 2 to 4 inches of rain Sunday with wind gusting to 50 mph. Snow and sleet were possible inland, Koch said.
The combination of rain, onshore wind and the approach of one of the spring's highest tides on Tuesday could add up to significant coastal surges, Koch said.
The New York National Guard alerted units that might be needed for emergency work, and Long Island's Suffolk County told emergency workers to be ready for possible duty.
``There is potential for a very bad storm,'' said Joseph Williams, Suffolk County's commissioner of fire, rescue and emergency services.
Snow stopped falling by Saturday afternoon in eastern Kansas, where some schools and businesses closed Friday as blowing snow created whiteout conditions. Up to 15 inches of snow fell in southwestern Kansas.
NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying races at Texas Motor Speedway were halted and thousands of fans were advised to move to safety as tornado sirens blared at the speedway in Fort Worth.
A tornado was spotted near Bedford, a suburb between Dallas and Forth Worth, though no damage was reported, the National Weather Service said.