An isolated tornado and high winds packing a line of isolated cyclones tore through the deep south overnight, uprooting trees and power lines, and damaging homes and businesses due to the prevailing weather conditions across several states.
At least two confirmed tornadoes struck Arkansas, Missouri and Texas on Wednesday, damaging several people, damaging homes and businesses, and disrupting power lines in Mississippi and Tennessee.
Nearly 185,000 customers were without power Thursday morning following a storm along a state band: Mississippi and Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky, Indiana and 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.
No deaths were reported as of Thursday morning, authorities said. But extensive 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 wreckage could be airborne as strong winds continue to blow and some hotel guests were relocated to other parts of the building due to concerns about the roof becoming unstable. There were no immediate injuries to the fall.
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 Springdale, Arkansas and the town of Johnson, about 145 miles (235 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock, injured seven people around 4 a.m., two in critical condition, Washington County, Arkansas, emergency managing director John Luther said.
The National Weather Service said the tornado would be rated “at least EF-2”, meaning wind speeds reached 111-135 mph (178-217 kph).
“Search and rescue teams have been deployed because there are significant casualties and injuries,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
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. Another EF-1 tornado with a wind speed of 100 mph (160 kph) hit a rural subdivision just before dawn on Wednesday, damaging two roofs, 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 overturned semitrailers, knocked off the roof of a mobile home, knocked down a tree in a house and knocked down power lines, according to weather service forecasters who did not immediately confirm any tornadoes in the state.
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.