Tornadoes have swept through parts of northern Texas in the United States, killing at least 11 people and leaving some 50,000 people in the dark, according to local officials.

One major tornado ravaged Garland, Texas - part of the vast Dallas-Fort Worth metro area - when it hit on Saturday evening, city officials said in a statement.

"Extensive damage has been reported to vehicles, homes, and apartments in the same area," the statement said.

Most of the eight confirmed deaths in the city are "believed to be related to vehicles struck by the tornado," it added, saying that there was also an unconfirmed number of injuries.

In addition to the eight killed in Garland, The Dallas Morning News reported that two people died in Copeville, while a young child was killed in Blue Ridge.

The tornadoes - residents say at least four of them - snapped power cables and knocked over pylons, leaving some 50,000 people in the dark, the newspaper reported.

The Red Cross said it was setting up shelters for people whose homes were damaged by the storm.

"I think everyone understands now the gravity of what happened," Anita Foster, spokeswoman for American Red Cross of North Texas, said on WFAA television.

On the other side of Texas, a snowstorm accompanied by plunging temperatures was expected to leave up to 406mm of snow in West Texas and much of New Mexico through Sunday evening, according to NWS meteorologist Brendon Rubin-Oster.

"It's going to be quite dangerous for anyone exposed to these elements," Rubin-Oster said.

Saturday's weather tragedy came as millions of residents in the southern US struggle to recover from fierce storms and floods that officials say have left at least 17 people dead in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas.

With more severe weather expected across the central US, forecasters are warning of airport delays and flooded roads as travellers return home after the Christmas holiday.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies