Southern US braces for another round of severe weather after tornadoes cause damage, 2 deaths
The risk of severe weather continued Tuesday across much of the southern United States after tornadoes ripped through parts of the region on Sunday night and Monday — killing at least two people in Georgia and leaving a trail of destruction in Mississippi.
Parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, as well as corners of Arkansas and Georgia are at enhanced risk for the worst weather, according to the national Storm Prediction Center. That zone is home to more than 11 million people and includes the cities of Nashville, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Jackson, Mississippi, forecasters said.
"We’ll see all three threats as far as hail, wind and tornadoes on Tuesday," said Mike Edmonston, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Mississippi.
Hail and high winds were reported in north Texas Monday night. Just before midnight, three tractor-trailers flipped over on Interstate 35 south of Dallas in the driving rain.
The weather could include wind gusts of up to 70 mph and hail to the size of golf balls, forecasters said, noting that "tornadoes are likely Tuesday into Tuesday evening" in parts of Mississippi.
The risk follows heavy weather that moved across the South on Sunday and Monday, damaging buildings and causing downed trees and power lines as residents were urged to take cover.
A tornado spotted in Atlanta forced thousands to seek shelter, and one man was killed when a falling tree brought power lines onto his vehicle in Douglasville, Georgia, west of Atlanta, Douglas County spokesman Rick Martin said.
The man, identified by FOX 5 Atlanta as Scot Hudson, was the owner of a local barbecue restaurant. The restaurant announced on social media that it was closing early.
RELATED: Douglasville restaurant owner killed by falling tree during storm
In the central part of the state, 55-year-old Carla Harris was killed after a tree fell crashed through the living room area of her Bonaire home, Houston County emergency officials said.
The weather first turned rough in Mississippi on Sunday, where just south of Yazoo City, Vickie Savell was left with only scraps of the brand-new mobile home where she and her husband had moved in just eight days ago. It had been lifted off its foundation and moved about 25 feet. It was completely destroyed.
"Oh my God, my first new house in 40 years and it's gone," she said Monday, amid treetops strewn about the neighborhood and the roar of chainsaws as people worked to clear roads.
Savell had been away from home, attending church, but her husband Nathan had been driving home and hunkered down in the front of his truck as the home nearby was destroyed. From there, he watched his new home blow past him, he said.
Nearby, Garry McGinty recalled being at home listening to birds chirping — then dead silence. He looked outside and saw a dark, ominous cloud and took shelter in a hallway, he said. He survived, but trees slammed into his carport, two vehicles and the side of his house.
The storms hit the northeast Mississippi city of Tupelo late Sunday, damaging homes and businesses. Calhoun County Sheriff Greg Pollan said the city "was hit hard."
"Light poles have been snapped off. Trees in a few homes. Trees on vehicles. Damage to several businesses. Fortunately, we have had no reports at this time of injuries," Pollan posted on Facebook, asking people to stay off the roads.
There were multiple reports of damage to homes on Elvis Presley Drive, just down the street from the home where the famed singer was born. Presley was born in a two-room house in the Tupelo neighborhood but there was no indication that the historic home sustained damage. It’s now a museum.
"I don’t even recognize my neighborhood anymore," Calhoun City resident Martha Edmond told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal after a tree poked a hole in her roof, causing heavy water damage. Two locations of a metal fabrication company were heavily damaged.
In Mississippi, forecasters confirmed 12 tornadoes Sunday evening and night, including the Yazoo City twister, which stretched for 30 miles, and another tornado that moved through suburbs of Byram and Terry south of Jackson that produced a damage track 1,000 yards wide.
In South Carolina, at least one tornado was reported Monday afternoon in Abbeville County. The tornado appeared to be on the ground for several miles, according to warnings from the National Weather Service. No injuries were immediately reported. In Greenwood, downed trees and power lines were reported, while a vehicle was blown over and a storage unit building was heavily damaged. Multiple locations reported golf ball-sized hail.
In the southern Kentucky town of Tompkinsville, a Monday morning storm later confirmed as a tornado damaged several homes and knocked down trees and power lines, Fire Chief Kevin Jones said. No injuries were reported, he said.
In West Virginia, Jefferson County communications supervisor James Hayden said one person was injured when a possible tornado touched down at a lumber company Monday evening. The injury was minor, and the person was treated at the scene, he said. Exterior lumber shed collapsed, Hayden said.
National Weather Service surveyors confirmed one tornado west of Atlanta near where the driver died. The twister was determined to have peak winds of 90 mph with a path that ran 1.5 miles. At least 10 homes had trees on them.
Overall, showers and scattered "strong to severe" storms were expected in parts of the U.S. Plains, South and Ohio Valley through Tuesday with flooding also possible, according to the National Weather Service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. It was reported from Cincinnati.