ICYMI: Severe weather rips through parts of the South, makes for scary moment in gym class and winter briefly vanishes in Northeast

AccuWeather Staff

A deadly storm swept through parts of the southern United States last weekend, while winter took a brief break in the Northeast as record-high temperatures more common in springtime took hold. Also, a volcano eruption in the Philippines has people in the area on high alert in a scenario that could play out for months - or even years. Here's a look back at the week in weather news.

Deadly severe weather outbreak slams the South

People in parts of the Deep South began their weekend enduring rounds of destructive and deadly storms that killed at least 12 people, with four of those deaths occurring in Louisiana. In the year's first severe weather outbreak, storms ripped through states including Oklahoma, Iowa, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama from from Jan. 10 to Jan. 11.

The National Weather Service's (NWS) Storm Prediction Center lodged more than 650 wind reports during the violent outbreak. It was more than just intense winds that wreaked havoc on the region, which also was hit with flooding rain and tornadoes between Friday morning and Saturday evening.

This photo provided by Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office shows damage from Friday nights severe weather, including the home of an elderly in Bossier Parish, La., on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. (Lt. Bill Davis/Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office via AP)

Preliminary reports showed at least 19 tornadoes had hit the region as of Sunday. Here's a few of the confirmed touchdowns: An EF2, 120-mph twister struck Marshall County, Alabama; the NWS office in Little Rock, Arkansas, reported damage from an EF2 tornado that tore through Logan County on Friday; and a high school in Kershaw County, South Carolina, was slammed with a high-end EF2 tornado with 130-mph winds, according to the NWS in Columbia, South Carolina.

Of the 12 reported fatalities, two of those were Texas first responders - 27-year-old Officer Nicholas Reyna and 39-year-old firefighter Lt. David Hill. They died after a vehicle struck them as they worked the scene of a crash in Lubbock during icy conditions, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Bomb cyclone hits the West Coast

Over in the Northwest, a midweek bomb cyclone -- one of two to hit North America this week -- delivered snow and strong winds to spots like Portland, Oregon; and Seattle. AccuWeather meteorologists say the storm system intensified rapidly early Wednesday morning, as its central barometric pressure dropped 0.74 of an inch of mercury in 12 hours.

Winds on the ominously named Washington's Destruction Island just about reached hurricane strength -  74 mph or higher - as they gusted to 72 mph late Wednesday, according to the NWS office in Seattle.

Earlier that afternoon, the Seattle area picked up about an inch of snow, while the storm delivered a mix of snow, rain and sleet to Portland.

Frightening video shows students fleeing as gym roof, wall collapse

Gym class for students at a North Carolina school was suddenly cut short as the roof of the gymnasium collapsed into the building. The frightening scene was captured a school security camera, which showed students fleeing to safety on the opposite side of the gym as roof and wall debris tear into the building's interior from behind a red curtain.

The Sampson County incident happened on Jan. 13 at Union Intermediate School, and it sent three of the 21 students to the hospital. No one was seriously injured. A microburst was the culprit of the frightening ordeal, according to the NWS. Watch the dramatic video here.

Winter, interrupted: Record January warmth bathes Northeast in spring-like weather

Winter didn't quite get the memo over the past weekend in the northeastern U.S., because temperatures were more akin to springtime than what is typical for this time of year.

Record highs were set across the region in 61 locations across the Ohio Valley and Northeast on Saturday as temperatures soared between 15 to 35 degrees above average, the NWS reported.

In New York City, Central Park a new high of 69 degrees Fahrenheit was reported in Central Park, replacing the previous record of 63 F; records from the late 1800s were shattered in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Columbus, Ohio; which both got as warm as 71 F last weekend; while Boston Logan Airport hit 70 F - only the city's third time reaching 70 F or higher in January since records began in 1872, according to the NWS.

Pittsburgh also reported a new record high temperature of 70 F, breaking the record of 68 F, set 130 years ago. In Charleston, West Virginia, the temperature reached 80 F on Saturday afternoon, breaking the record of 71 F that was set just last year. This week, ahem, will be a much different story for that part of the country.

Taal volcano erupts in the Philippines

A terrifying scene unfolded in the central Philippines earlier this week as the Taal volcano erupted, spewing lava and ash, and blanketing nearby towns with the gray powder. Officials say that this could be only the beginning of eruptions happening in the Batangas province that could persist for months - or even years.

On Sunday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the status of the Taal Volcano, which is the second-most active volcano in the Philippines, to an Alert Level 4 as ash and smoke first began spewing. That level means a hazardous eruption could occur within hours to days.

People watch as Taal volcano erupts Sunday Jan. 12, 2020, in Tagaytay, Cavite province, outside Manila, Philippines (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Early Monday morning, a weak lava flow was observed coming from the volcano for an hour and a half, according to PHIVOLCS. The blast on Sunday reportedly shot ash nine miles up into the air.

"We haven't seen yet the hazards of the 1965, 1911 and 1754 eruption manifested in Taal volcano," PHIVOLCS Director Renato Solidum told CNN Philippines. "[If it is a hazardous eruption], we will see flows of ashes, rocks, gas at speeds of more than 60 kph [37 mph] horizontally and that can move across the lake."

At least 300,000 have been told to move to safety, according to the AP. The Taal Volcano's last major eruption happened in 1977.

Deadly winter storm strikes the Middle East

At least 160 people died as a potent winter storm slammed parts of the Arabian Peninsula to Pakistan late last week through the weekend. The storm impacted millions with brutal cold and severe flooding, and the severe weather also triggered avalanches.

Police officers and local residents dig to search bodies of victims of avalanches in Doodnail village in Neelum Valley, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Abdul Razaq)

Between Jan. 9 to Jan. 12, widespread rainfall totals reached between 1-3 inches across the Middle East. Dubai, UAE, saw 2.35 inches of rain, while Muscat, Oman, reported 1.64 inches. The heavy rain and flooding impeded travel and led to at least 3,000 people in need of being rescued. Around 2,500 homes were left seriously damaged.

Avalanches in Pakistan took a deadly turn, killing at least 121 people. The AP reported that at least 76 people died as a result of the avalanches in the hardest-hit area of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

But amid all of the disaster, a beautiful scene arose in the Saudi Arabian desert. Near Tabuk, in the northwest corner of the country, part of that same storm system blanketed the desert in snow, leaving the usually arid desert white and making for a striking visual as camels were juxtaposed against a snowy landscape.