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Storms moving eastward, leave trail of damage in Deep South

  • Debris litters weather-damaged properties at the intersection of County Road 24 and 37 in Clanton, Ala., the morning after a large outbreak of storms Thursday. AP – Vasha Hunt

  • Debris litters weather-damaged properties at the intersection of County Road 24 and 37 in Clanton, Ala., the morning following a large outbreak of severe storms across the southeast, Thursday, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • Debris litters weather-damaged properties at the intersection of County Road 24 and 37 in Clanton, Ala., the morning following a large outbreak of severe storms across the southeast, Thursday, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • The sun rises over weather-damaged properties at the intersection of County Road 24 and 37 in Clanton, Ala., the morning following a large outbreak of severe storms across the southeast, Thursday, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • Damaged properties near the intersection of County Road 24 and 37 in Clanton, Ala., are shown early Thursday, March 18, 2021, the morning after a large outbreak of severe storms pounded the southeast. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • Fallen trees cover the ground by weather-damaged properties in Clanton, Ala., the morning following a large outbreak of severe storms across the southeast, Thursday, March 18, 2021. Possible tornadoes knocked down trees, toppled power lines and damaged homes in multiple locations across the state of Alabama. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • Fallen trees cover the ground by weather-damaged properties in Clanton, Ala., the morning following a large outbreak of severe storms across the southeast, Thursday, March 18, 2021. Possible tornadoes knocked down trees, toppled power lines and damaged homes in multiple locations across the state of Alabama. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • The sun rises over weather-damaged properties in Clanton, Ala., the morning following a large outbreak of severe storms across the southeast, Thursday, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • AMU RV service and repair on Old Greensboro Road where severe weather destroyed multiple client-owned recreational vehicles and tore the roof off the workshop with people inside, who survived, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Moundville, Ala. Possible tornadoes knocked down trees, toppled power lines and damaged homes in rural Chilton County and the Alabama communities of Burnsville and Moundville, where power was out and trees blocked a main highway. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • A tornado touches down near Moundville in Hale County, Ala., Wednesday, March 17, 2021, causing damage to homes and downing trees. A wave of storms is pounding the Deep South, leaving a trail of splintered trees and damaged buildings. And forecasters said still more severe weather was on the way Wednesday with the potential for massive tornadoes, downpours and hail the size of tennis balls. (Gary Cosby Jr.,/The Tuscaloosa News via AP) Gary Cosby Jr.

  • A worker checks the damage to the roof of a house being built along State Road 69 as severe weather hit, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Moundville, Ala. Possible tornadoes knocked down trees, toppled power lines and damaged homes in rural Chilton County and the Alabama communities of Burnsville and Moundville, where power was out and trees blocked a main highway. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • Damage to Bobbi Harris' property on Old Greensboro Road is seen, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Moundville, Ala., after severe weather came through the area. No one was inside at the time. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • Homes and cars on Waterbury Drive were heavily damaged from severe weather, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Moundville, Ala. Possible tornadoes knocked down trees, toppled power lines and damaged homes in rural Chilton County and the Alabama communities of Burnsville and Moundville, where power was out and trees blocked a main highway. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • This tin roof was blown off a building by severe winds in the Woolworth community in northeast Lincoln County, Miss., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Forecasters believe more severe weather is expected Wednesday with the potential for massive tornadoes, downpours and hail the size of tennis balls. (Brett Campbell/The Daily Leader) Brett Campbell

  • A utility worker looks to repair lines with the roof of Kelley Electric draped on the lines after downtown Moundville was hit by severe weather, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Moundville, Ala. Possible tornadoes knocked down trees, toppled power lines and damaged homes in rural Chilton County and the Alabama communities of Burnsville and Moundville, where power was out and trees blocked a main highway. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt) Vasha Hunt

  • Mitch Hendry cuts through fallen trees on his property with a chainsaw after a tornado came through on St. Patrick's Day near Strengthford Cooley Road in Wayne County, Miss., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Forecasters believe more severe weather is expected Wednesday with the potential for massive tornadoes, downpours and hail the size of tennis balls. (Cam Bonelli/Hattiesburg American via AP) Cam Bonelli

  • A chicken farm off Strengthford Cooley Road in Wayne County, Miss., sustained extensive damage on St. Patrick's Day after a tornado touched down Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Forecasters believe more severe weather is expected Wednesday with the potential for massive tornadoes, downpours and hail the size of tennis balls. (Cam Bonelli/Hattiesburg American via AP) Cam Bonelli

  • A tornado touched down in Moundville in Hale County, Ala., Wednesday, March 17, 2021, causing damage to homes and downing trees. Sabrina Hargrove and her baby Skylar Johnson stand outside their damaged home on Waterbury Street. A wave of storms is pounding the Deep South, leaving a trail of splintered trees and damaged buildings. And forecasters said still more severe weather was on the way Wednesday with the potential for massive tornadoes, downpours and hail the size of tennis... Gary Cosby Jr.

  • Local residents suspect the roof of this home along Cotten Lane in the Woolworth community in northeast Lincoln County, Miss., might have been destroyed by a tornado Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Forecasters believe more severe weather is expected Wednesday with the potential for massive tornadoes, downpours and hail the size of tennis balls. (Brett Campbell/The Daily Leader) Brett Campbell

  • A road crew passes downed trees after a tornado came through on St. Patrick's Day in Wayne County, Miss., Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Forecasters believe more severe weather is expected Wednesday with the potential for massive tornadoes, downpours and hail the size of tennis balls. (Cam Bonelli/Hattiesburg American via AP) Cam Bonelli

Associated Press
Published: 3/18/2021 5:56:56 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Storms that left splintered homes and broken trees across Alabama and Mississippi moved into Georgia and Florida on Thursday, rousing residents with early morning warnings as forecasters said the threat of dangerous weather would move up the south Atlantic seaboard.

The weather service said at least two people were hurt when an apparent tornado struck southwest Alabama, destroying a house. Pieces of homes and twisted metal laid amid broken trees in the hardest-hit areas, but no one died and the region appeared to escape the kind of horrific toll many feared after ominous predictions of monster twisters and huge hail.

“Overall, we have a lot to be grateful for, as it could have been much worse,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

The National Weather Service office in central Alabama said teams were fanning out Thursday to assess damage in at least 12 counties where tornadoes may have touched down.

Forecasters issued a string of tornado warnings around the region where Alabama, Georgia and Florida intersect, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.

The storms were expected to intensify as they move into South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday afternoon.

A line of storms stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to West Virginia, and the Storm Prediction Center said other, isolated severe storms were possible from southern Ohio into the central Appalachians.

“Significant tornadoes, wind damage and large hail will be possible from morning into afternoon,” the center said. “Severe thunderstorms will also be possible from parts of the eastern Gulf Coast into the southern and central Appalachians.”

The metro Atlanta area was pelted by heavy rain with intense lightning and strong wind gusts of up to 50 mph.

Morehouse College tweeted that it was delaying the opening of its campus until 11 a.m. and that faculty and staff should not arrive until after that time. All classes before then were to be held virtually, it said.

In South Carolina, the severe weather threat led the state Senate president to caution senators to stay home Thursday while urging staff to work remotely for their safety. House Speaker Jay Lucas kept his promise from the day before to meet less than an hour Thursday so members could beat the severe storms home.

The forecast led a number of the state’s school systems to call off in-person classes Thursday and have students and teachers meet online.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington canceled its evening classes as a precaution.

On Wednesday, possible tornadoes in Alabama knocked down trees, toppled power lines and damaged homes. Some of the worst problems were in rural Clarke County, where authorities said two people were hurt when a home was destroyed and several others were damaged.

Between Montgomery and Birmingham in Chilton County, a storm destroyed at least three homes including that of resident Jimmy Baker.

“Then about a minute before it got here, we jumped ... in the hall closet, a little, small closet,” Baker told WSFA-TV. “And just we heard it. You know, the sound from the house coming down. We were saved. We thank the Lord for that,” he said.

In north Alabama, where forecasters said as much as 6 inches of rain fell, a woman who rescuers found clinging to a tree after her car was swamped by floodwaters in Morgan County was treated at a hospital, but details about her condition were not immediately available. Schools closed in neighboring Madison County because of flooding.

Roofs were yanked off homes in Moundville, south of Tuscaloosa. “There’s a lot of trees down. I guess it had to be a tornado; it got out of here pretty fast,” aid Michael Brown, whose family owns Moundville Ace Hardware and Building.

Additional damage was reported in Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi, where video showed an apparent tornado at Brookhaven. High winds blew down signs and trees in northeast Texas, and hailstones the size of baseballs were reported near the Alabama-Mississippi line, the weather service said.

More than 70,000 homes and businesses were without power at one point from Texas to Alabama, which was under a state of emergency, and communities across the South used social media to share the location of tornado shelters.




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