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Fall snow storm, tornadoes wallop Plains

A deadly storm rolled through parts of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska on Friday, dumping at least 33 inches of snow and bringing tornadoes. At least four homes were destroyed and 15 people hurt in Wayne, Neb.

By Dirk LammersAssociated Press / October 5, 2013

Mari Havens, a courtesy clerk at a Rapid City, S.D. Safeway store, gathers up shopping carts in the store's wind and snow swept parking lot Friday. Blizzards rolled into parts of Wyoming and South Dakota on Friday, bringing the snow-savvy states to an unseasonably early winter standstill.

Steve McEnroe/AP

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Sioux Falls, S.D.

A deadly storm system that buried parts of Wyoming and South Dakota in heavy, wet snow also brought powerful thunderstorms packing tornadoes to the Great Plains that caused millions of dollars in damage.

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The storm dumped at least 33 inches of snow in a part of South Dakota's scenic Black Hills, National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Helgeson said Friday afternoon. Later in the day, thunderstorms rolled across the Plains, and witnesses reported seeing tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. There were no reports of deaths from any of the tornadoes.

Earlier in the day, snow was blamed for the deaths of three people who were killed in a traffic accident on snow-slicked U.S. 20 in northeast Nebraska.

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Forecasters said the cold front would eventually combine with other storms to make for a wild, and probably very wet, weekend for much of the central U.S. and Southeast.

Some of the greatest damage from tornadoes seemed to be in Wayne, Neb., a town of 9,600 where witnesses said at least four homes were destroyed. Mayor Ken Chamberlain said all of the residents in town were accounted for, but the storm caused millions of dollars in damage to an area that includes businesses and the city's softball complex.

At least 15 people were hurt in Wayne, but Chamberlain said none of the injuries was considered life-threatening, Chamberlain said. Seven of the injuries stemmed from two separate automobile accidents.

In Iowa, the state's Iowa Department of Homeland Security said a mile-wide tornado touched down near the town of Cherokee, cutting a 2- to 3-mile path through farmland but missing any population centers.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said they were still trying to figure out exactly how many twisters touched down Friday evening from storms that also brought large hail and heavy rain.

The snow in South Dakota prompted officials in Deadwood to postpone their annual Octoberfest, including Friday night's dancing-and-singing pub crawl and Saturday's Wiener Dog Races and Beer Barrel Games.

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