Nearly A Dozen Dead As Twisters Hit 3 States
By Scott Neuman
A second day of tornadoes has caused devastation in the South, killing nearly a dozen people in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. Some 50 twisters were reported in the region in a 24-hour period, according to meteorologists.
Some news reports put the toll from the latest round of storms at 11 dead, but as is often the case with breaking stories involving natural disasters, the figures may go up or down as authorities get more information.
The storms came a day after tornadoes swept through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa overnight late Sunday and early Monday, killing at least 14 people. Sunday was also the three-year anniversary of a major tornado outbreak that killed more than 250 people in six states, including Alabama and Mississippi.
The Associated Press says of affected areas waking up to devastation Tuesday: "Tens of thousands of customers were without power in Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky, which did not report tornadoes but was slammed with severe storms. Thousands more hunkered down in basements and shelters as the National Weather Service issued watches and warnings for more tornadoes throughout the night in Alabama."
And, according to The Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth, some of the hardest hit areas in the past few days can expect a "repeat performance" later Tuesday.
Here's a closer look, state by state:
Mississippi: At least 7 dead.
Gov. Phil Bryant has declared an emergency for the state after Monday's rash of twisters.
The Clarion-Ledger says Monday is being described as the most active tornado day in the state's history.
One woman was killed in a day care center she owned in Louisville, but it wasn't clear whether there were any children in the facility at the time, officials told The Associated Press late Monday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Bryant, quoted by the Ledger, says it will be impossible to confirm how many tornadoes touched down in the state until meteorologists can get a close look at radar data and survey the areas hit. However, some weather officials think the total number could be a dozen twisters.
In hardest-hit Tupelo, a community of about 35,000 in northeastern Mississippi, "every building in a two-block area south of U.S. Highway 78 suffered damage," officials told a reporter on the scene, according to the AP.
Alabama: 2 reported dead.
Gov. Robert Bentley has declared an emergency for the state.
Winds destroyed several homes in northern Alabama, where a local coroner's office confirmed two deaths in a twister that caused extensive damage west of the city of Athens, according to the AP.
Limestone County Emergency Director Rita White said more victims could be trapped in the wreckage of damaged buildings, but rescuers could not reach some areas because of downed power lines, the AP says.
A spokesman for Alabama Power tells AL.com that as of 4 a.m. local time, there are 11,379 customers without power.
Tennessee: 2 reported dead.
In southern Tennessee, two people were killed in a home when a tornado packing winds of 190 mph hit Monday night, Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Mike Hall told the AP.
The storm destroyed homes and damaged an elementary school, The Tennessean reports.
"The fatalities were reported to hospital officials around 11 p.m., said Mary Beth Seals, the director of marketing and community relations for the Lincoln Medical Center. The identities of those killed were not immediately available.
A handful of other, minor injuries from the tornado have also been reported, Seals said.
Meteorologist Corey Mead tells NPR that a large storm system that's lumbering east has the potential to spawn tornadoes as far north as the Great Lakes, on the Gulf Coast and in the Mid-Atlantic.
Mead says the system will continue edging east into Wednesday, when it will threaten the Carolinas.