Severe storms hit the south, killing at least 2 people in Florida
A line of severe storms containing isolated tornadoes and high winds moved across the Deep South overnight, killing at least two people in the Florida Panhandle, toppling trees and power lines and leaving homes and businesses damaged as the vast weather front crossed several states.
In Florida, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday morning that two people were killed and two injured when a tornado touched down in West Florida.
The sheriff’s office also said the tornado destroyed homes. His Facebook page showed at least one house that was cleared, as well as downed trees on another house. No other details were immediately available.
At least two confirmed tornadoes injured several people on Wednesday, damaged homes and businesses and downed power lines in Mississippi and Tennessee after a previous storm caused damage in Arkansas, Missouri and Texas.
About 185,000 customers were without power Thursday morning following the storm along a swathe of states: Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utilities.
The worst of the weather Thursday morning appeared to be at the southern end of the storm front, which was expected to bring heavy rain and high winds all along the eastern seaboard of the United States later in the day. Much of the Florida Panhandle was under tornado watch, according to the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.
No deaths had been reported as a result of the storms Thursday morning, authorities said. But widespread damage was reported in the Jackson, Tennessee, area while a tornado warning was in effect. ‘Extensive damage’ occurred at a nursing home near Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in Jackson, the Madison County Emergency Management Director said. , Jason Moore.
In Nashville, Tennessee, signs fell five stories from the side of a downtown hotel Wednesday night and on the roof of a building below. The fire department warned that debris could be suspended in the air as high winds continued, and some hotel guests were moved to other parts of the building due to fears the roof from becoming unstable. No injuries were immediately associated with the collapse.
Daylight revealed widespread wind damage throughout Alabama.
One person was injured when a storm hit the University of Montevallo campus south of Birmingham, damaging a dormitory, officials said, and a woman was injured when a prefab house overturned in the rural Bibb County. A school bus was overturned at a high school in southern Alabama and part of the roof was missing at a church in northwest Alabama.
Elsewhere, the roof of a warehouse collapsed as storms moved through Southaven, Mississippi, near Memphis, police said. The building had been evacuated and no injuries were reported.
The Mississippi Senate adjourned Wednesday as weather sirens sounded during a tornado watch in downtown Jackson. Some employees took refuge in the basement of the Capitol.
Rander P. Adams said he and his wife, Janice Delores Adams, were at their home near downtown Jackson when severe weather conditions blew in during a tornado warning Wednesday afternoon. He said their lights flashed and a large window exploded a few feet from his wife as she tried to open their front door.
“The glass shattered like someone had thrown a brick through it,” he said. “I then said to him, ‘Let’s go to the back of the house.'”
Adams said the storm toppled trees in a nearby park and a large tree in front of their home split in two. “We have been blessed,” he said. “Instead of falling towards the house, he fell the other way.”
Earlier Wednesday, a tornado that struck Springdale, Arkansas, and the nearby town of Johnson, about 145 miles (235 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock shortly after 4 a.m., injured seven people, including two seriously, according to Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse.
Sprouse said in a statement that one of the seriously injured people has improved and is in stable condition and the other five have been discharged from hospital.
“Our first responders conducted door-to-door searches, and we believe everyone was accounted for,” Sprouse said.
The Tulsa National Weather Service said Thursday the tornado was rated EF-3, down from an initial rating of EF-2, with wind speeds between 136 and 165 mph (219-265 km/h). The tornado reached a top speed of about 145 mph (233 km/h) and 5 miles (8 kilometers) while on the ground for about eight minutes, according to the weather service.
In northwest Missouri, an EF-1 tornado with winds around 90 mph (145 km/h) hit St. Joseph on Tuesday night, damaging two homes.
A small tornado also touched down briefly on the eastern outskirts of Dallas, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. The tornado struck just after 4:30 a.m. Wednesday near McClendon-Chisolm with peak winds around 100 mph (161 km/h) and damaged homes, but no injuries were reported, according to the weather service.
The storms come a week after a tornado in a New Orleans neighborhood carved a path of destruction overnight and killed a man.
High winds in Louisiana overturned tractor-trailers, ripped the roof off a mobile home, sent a tree crashing into a house and toppled power lines, according to meteorologists, who did not immediately confirm the existence tornadoes in the state.
Firefighters, meanwhile, attempted to contain a spreading wildfire near Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, amid mandatory evacuations as winds picked up before the storm front approached .
The fire, which was not brought under control, had spread to around 250 acres (more than 100 hectares) by Wednesday afternoon. One person was injured and a plume of smoke rose over a community not far from where the 2016 wildfires tore through the tourist town of Gatlinburg, killing 14 people and damaging or destroying around 2,500 buildings.
Wagster Pettus reported from Jackson, Miss., and Mattise from Nashville, Tennessee; many other Associated Press reporters contributed to this report.
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