A massive storm system, spanning from Maine to the Dakotas and from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, bore down on half the continental U.S. yesterday and today, unleashing tornadoes, snow and ice and killing three people on Thursday. One was killed in far eastern Mississippi, where a tornado touched down yesterday afternoon; Derek Cody, an amateur storm chaser, watched it from his car: "I kind of sat there and hoped it would cross right in front of me," he told the AP. "It was just a black mass that moved across the road." In Missouri, another tornado ripped the roofs of some houses, and a pharmacy technician in Hazelwood told USA Today he saw "'a wall of bright light' before the storm lifted products off shelves and tore holes in the roof." Nearby, a utility worker was electrocuted, and later died. The storm system's third victim was killed in Nebraska, where the dangerous weather effect wasn't a tornado but a blinding snowstorm; elsewhere in the upper midwest, states were hit hard by rain and ice. The system now moves out to the east coast, where it'll be dumping rain in the north—and maybe more tornadoes in Virginia and the Carolinas. [USAT | CBS | NBC]