Associated Press

Strong winds and heavy rains pounded India's eastern coastline Saturday, as hundreds of thousands of people took shelter from a massive, powerful cyclone that was expected to reach land in a few hours.

The skies were dark — almost black — at midmorning in Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa state and about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the coast. Roaring winds made palm trees sway wildly, and to the south, seawater was pushing inland.

The former Tropical Storm Karen, since downgraded to a depression, hovered early Sunday near Louisiana's extreme southeast coastline and threatened to lash vulnerable low-lying areas with heavy rain.

But all tropical storm warnings were discontinued earlier in the weekend after the system had been downgraded from a weak tropical storm while lumbering off the Gulf Coast.

Breaking nearly century-old early autumn snowfall records, a storm system smothered South Dakota's scenic Black Hills in South Dakota with up to 3½ feet of wet, heavy snow, leaving residents the challenge of digging out.

But wintry weather wasn't the only thing delivered by the powerful cold front that crossed the Great Plains, as unusually strong thunderstorms brought heavy rain, hail and as many as nine tornadoes to Nebraska and Iowa. Fifteen people in northeast Nebraska were injured in a tornado Friday, while three died in a car accident on a snow-slicked road.

Tropical Storm Karen continued losing strength Saturday as it headed toward the central Gulf Coast, but forecasters were still expecting it to bring significant rain and potential flooding to low-lying areas.

The National Hurricane Center reported at 2 a.m. Saturday that Karen's maximum sustained winds had dropped to 40 mph, making it a weak tropical storm. The storm was moving west-northwest at 10 mph to 15 mph.

Forecasters expect the center of Karen to be near the southeast Louisiana coast on Saturday night, when they say there is a slight chance of strengthening.