Strong storms sweeping through the South have left at least two people dead as the severe weather dropped trees and spawned dozens of tornadoes from Mississippi to South Carolina.
In Georgia, there were reports of two tornadoes and one person killed Tuesday as the storms blew through. Bryan County Coroner Bill Cox confirmed the death but didn’t have any details about the victim or how they died.
Bryan County Fire and Emergency Services said earlier that tornado debris had trapped some people in their homes. Bryan County is located near Savannah.
Mary Edwards was driving on Interstate 16 in Georgia not far from Savannah when she saw a tornado ahead.
The twister appeared just minutes after Edwards received an alert on her phone for a tornado warning.
“To see it right before you, it’s humbling. It’s exciting, it’s majestic, and you really get that sense of mortality. You surrender,” she said.
The other known storm death occurred in East Texas where a middle-aged man in an RV was killed Tuesday morning in the community of Whitehouse, southeast of Tyler, when a tree fell on the vehicle, the Smith County emergency management coordinator said.
The victim’s name was not released. The county was assessing damage to the area after reports of several trees down on homes and trees on roads, the coordinator, Jay Brooks, said.
At least three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in Allendale County in South Carolina, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said. Brandon LaVorgna added there were no known storm deaths.
A few dozen homes and businesses in the county on the Georgia border were damaged, LaVorgna said.
The Storm Prediction Center said there were 35 tornado reports from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina as of 10:40 p.m. ET.
A damaged home in the Georgia neighborhood of Randell Petrie, who said he and his family hid in a closet when they heard what sounded like a train.
At least five possible tornadoes were reported in Mississippi, downing trees in Jefferson Davis and Covington counties northwest of Hattiesburg, as well as in Newton and Scott counties east of Jackson, the National Weather Service said.
Downed trees and power lines near the southwestern Alabama community of Coffeeville also might have been caused by a tornado, the weather service said.
Tornado watches were in effect Tuesday night for parts of Florida, central and southern Georgia, the weather service said.
More than 25,000 customers were without power in Georgia and South Carolina, according to PowerOutage.us.
Rain was also causing problems Tuesday. Much of metro Atlanta spent hours under a flash flood warning, according to the National Weather Service. As many as 3 inches of rain had fallen across the area and more light to moderate rain is expected to continue through Tuesday afternoon. Several gauges listed on the National Weather Service’s Southeast River Forecast Center website showed minor flooding in the area.
Storms cause damage in Texas
Storms battered parts of Texas on Monday night into early Tuesday, with winds damaging some homes and businesses outside Dallas-Fort Worth, and in one instance flipping over an RV trailer, CNN affiliate WFAA reported.
Amber Zeleny’s husband had just helped her daughter get out of the trailer when it flipped more than once in their house’s backyard west of Egan, a Johnson County community about a 20-mile drive south of Fort Worth, WFAA reported.
The trailer appeared to roll over him, and he was sent to a hospital with injuries, but he told a reporter he was OK, according to WFAA.
“I’m standing at the front door watching everything, and I’m like ‘Oh my God,'” Zeleny told WFAA.
Aerial video from WFAA showed roof damage to buildings in rural parts of Johnson County as well as in Collin County, just northeast of Dallas.
Four people were rescued Monday night from fast-moving floodwaters in McKinney, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas, officials said. The McKinney Fire Department said on Twitter it carried out three separate water rescues. No one was injured.
More severe weather in the South
The severe weather is the latest in a series of storm systems that have battered the southern US for three weeks straight.
The first system spawned a deadly EF-3 tornado just outside New Orleans and 25 tornadoes in Texas last month.
Many of the same areas that have seen severe weather over the past few weeks will under threat again over the week ahead, the Storm Prediction Center’s Bill Bunting told CNN.
“The very moist air flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico, which has helped the storms develop over the last few weeks, is once again what we will see this week,” Bunting said.
By Wednesday, a separate system will form, bringing another round of storms to the South and extending the severe threat for another day. The highest risk — a level 3 of 5 — covers about 12 million people in Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, the prediction center said.
By Thursday, the threat diminishes, as the storms push off the East Coast. While the system is primarily bringing storms to the South, much of the Eastern Seaboard will see rain then.
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