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(NEW YORK) — Severe Christmas Day weather tore across the deep South, creating 34 possible tornadoes and killing at least three people.

The storm first pounded Texas, then touched down in Louisiana and blasted through homes in Mississippi.  In Mobile, Ala., a wide funnel cloud barreled across the city as lightning flashed inside.

Bill Bunting with the National Weather Service’s Severe Storms Prediction Center said that the damage may not yet be done.

“Conditions don’t look quite as volatile over a large area as we saw on Christmas Day but there will be a risk of tornadoes, some of them could be rather strong, across eastern portions of North Carolina and the northeastern part of South Carolina,” he said.

Across the Gulf region, from Texas to Florida, over 280,000 customers are still without power, with 100,000 without power in Little Rock, Ark., alone.

Meanwhile, at least eight states were also placed under blizzard warnings on Tuesday, as the storms made highways dangerously slick heading into one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Tuesday’s extreme weather even caused an eight-foot-deep sinkhole in Vicksburg, Miss.

Alma Jackson told ABC News that a concrete tank that was in her backyard fell into the sinkhole.  “It’s really very disturbing,” she said.  “Because it’s on Christmas day, and then to see this big hole in the ground and not have any explanation, and not be able to cover it.  And the rain is pouring down.”

The last time a number of tornadoes hit the Gulf Coast area around Christmas Day was in 2009, when 22 tornadoes struck on Christmas Eve morning, National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro told ABC News in an email.

The deadliest Christmastime tornado outbreak on record was Dec. 24 through 26, 1982, when 29 tornadoes in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi killed three people and injured 32.

The last killer tornado around Christmas, Vaccaro said, was a Christmas Eve EF4 in Tennessee in 1988, which killed one person and injured seven.  EF4 tornadoes can produce winds up to 200 mph.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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