Isolated tornadoes and tornadoes across the deep south tore through a line overnight – at least two people have been killed in a Florida panhandle, trees and power lines have collapsed and homes and businesses have been damaged by widespread weather across several states.
In Florida, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday morning that two people were killed and two others were injured in a tornado at Panhandle, West Florida.
According to Sheryl Frankenfield, a spokeswoman for Washington Country Emergency Management, two homes were destroyed and the power line collapsed. The county’s Facebook page showed at least one house being destroyed, as well as another house with fallen trees. Any other details were immediately available.
There are staff in the area to help the Florida Division of Emergency Management, spokeswoman Samantha Baker said. He said property damage has also occurred in neighboring Jackson County.
“It’s a bad day, but fortunately these storms are moving fast,” he said.
At least two confirmed tornadoes struck Arkansas, Missouri and Texas on Wednesday, damaging several people, damaging homes and businesses, and breaking power lines in Mississippi and Tennessee.
About 185,000 customers were without power in the wake of the storm along a state band on Thursday morning: Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utilities.
The worst of the weather on Thursday morning was seen at the southern end of the storm front, which was expected to bring heavy rain and strong winds along the east coast of the United States towards the end of the day. According to the Tallahassee National Weather Service, most of the Panhandle in Florida was under tornado surveillance.
Massive damage was reported in the Jackson, Tennessee area as a tornado alert was issued. There was “significant damage” to a nursing home near Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in Jackson, Madison County Emergency Managing Director Jason Moore said.
In Nashville, Tennessee, the paneling from the side of a downtown hotel fell to the roof of a five-story and downstairs building Wednesday evening. The fire department warned that the debris could be blown away as strong winds continued, and some hotel guests were moved to other parts of the building due to concerns the roof would become unstable. There were no immediate injuries to the fall.
Daylight has caused extensive wind damage across Alabama.
A man was injured in a storm on the Montevallo University campus south of Birmingham, damaged a dormitory, officials said, and a woman was injured when a makeshift house in rural Bib County was washed away. A school bus has overturned at a high school in South Alabama and part of the roof of a church in northwest Alabama has gone missing.
Elsewhere, the roof of a warehouse collapsed during a storm surge on the Mississippi Southwen near Memphis, police said. The building was evacuated and no casualties were reported.
The Mississippi Senate suspended its work Wednesday because the weather siren sounded during a tornado clock in central Jackson. Some employees took refuge in the capital basement.
Render p. Adams said he and his wife, Janice Delores Adams, were at their home in downtown Jackson during severe weather during a tornado warning Wednesday afternoon. He said their lights went on and a large window exploded as he tried to open the front door of his wife.
“The glass shattered as if someone had thrown a brick at it,” he said. “I then advised him, ‘Let’s go to the back of the house.’
Adams said the storm caused a tree in a nearby park to collapse and a large tree across the street from their home was cut in half. “We were blessed,” he said. “Instead of falling towards the house, it fell on the other side.”
Earlier Wednesday, a tornado that struck about 145 miles (235 kilometers) northwest of Springdale, Arkansas and the adjoining town of Johnson, Little Rock, left seven people injured, four seriously, just after 4 a.m., according to Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse.
Sprouse said in a statement that one of the critically injured had recovered and was in stable condition, while the other five had been released from hospital.
“Our first responders completed house-to-house searches, and we believe that has been accounted for by everyone,” Sprouse said.
The Tulsa National Meteorological Service said Thursday that the tornado was rated EF-3, with an initial assessment of EF-2, with wind speeds of 136-165 mph (219-265 kph). According to the weather service, the tornado reached a maximum speed of about 145 miles (233 kilometers) and 5 miles (8 kilometers) while remaining on the ground for about eight minutes.
In northwest Missouri, an EF-1 tornado with a speed of about 90 miles (145 km) hit St. Joseph’s on Tuesday night, damaging two homes.
According to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, a small tornado has also briefly landed on the eastern edge of Dallas. A tornado with winds of about 100 mph (161 kmph) hit the area near McClendon-Chiselm after 4:30 a.m. Wednesday and damaged homes, but no injuries were reported, according to the weather service.
A tornado in the New Orleans area carved out a path of destruction overnight and storms came a week after killing one person.
Strong winds in Louisiana have overturned semitrailers, knocked off the roof of a mobile home, destroyed a tree in a house and broken power lines, according to weather service forecasters, who did not immediately confirm any tornadoes in the state.
The National Weather Service Office in New Orleans said Thursday that teams will conduct damage surveys in Tangipahoa and St. Tamani parishes in southeastern Louisiana and in Jackson County in southeastern Mississippi. They said the highest wind speeds recorded in the office coverage area were 67 miles per hour (108 km) at New Orleans Lakefront Airport and winds reached a high 50 mile (80 km) range at Baton Rouge.
Firefighters, meanwhile, are trying to contain a blaze that has spread near Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park, forcing winds to move towards the front of the storm during forced evacuations.
The fire, which was out of control, spread to about 250 acres (over 100 hectares) by Wednesday afternoon. One person was injured, and smoke billowed from a community where a 2016 wildfire destroyed the tourist town of Gatlinburg, killing 14 people and damaging or destroying about 2,500 buildings.
Wagster reports from Petas Jackson, Miss, and Mattis Nashville, Tennessee; Many other Associated Press journalists have contributed to this report.