Three killed as storms spawn tornadoes across southern US

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Much of the US South is enduring severe weather that has killed at least three people, spawned tornadoes and damaged homes and uprooted trees from Mississippi to West Virginia.

Parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, as well as corners of Arkansas and Georgia were at enhanced risk for the worst weather, according to the national Storm Prediction Centre.

That zone is home to more than 11 million people and includes the cities of Nashville, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Jackson, Mississippi, forecasters said.

“We’ll see all three threats as far as hail, wind and tornadoes on Tuesday,” said Mike Edmonston, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Mississippi.

A Tennessee woman died when a tree fell on her home as storms moved through the state on Tuesday, said Weakley County Emergency Management director Ray Wiggington. He said at least six mobile homes were damaged by the falling tree.

Hail and high winds buffeted north Texas, where just before midnight on Monday, powerful winds from a likely tornado flipped three lorries over on Interstate 35 in the driving rain, authorities said.

Tuesday’s storms could include wind gusts of up to 70mph and hail the size of golf balls, forecasters said, noting that “tornadoes are likely Tuesday into Tuesday evening” in parts of Mississippi. A couple of tornado warnings were issued on Tuesday morning in rural areas east of Nashville, Tennessee.

A tornado warning in Atlanta forced thousands to seek shelter on Monday and one man was killed when a falling tree brought power lines down on his vehicle in Douglasville, Georgia, west of Atlanta, said Douglas County spokesman Rick Martin.

Also in Georgia, Carla Harris, 55, was killed after a tree fell on to her home in Bonaire, said Houston County emergency officials.

A damaged tree on the side of Elvis Presley Drive in Tupelo, Mississippi
A damaged tree on the side of Elvis Presley Drive in Tupelo, Mississippi (Thomas Graning/AP)

In Mississippi, forecasters confirmed 12 tornadoes on Sunday evening and night, including one in Yazoo City which stretched for 30 miles, and another that moved through suburbs of Byram and Terry south of Jackson that produced a damage track 1,000 yards wide.

In South Carolina, at least one tornado was reported on Monday afternoon in Abbeville County. The tornado appeared to be on the ground for several miles, according to warnings from the National Weather Service.

In the southern Kentucky town of Tompkinsville, a Monday morning storm later confirmed as a tornado damaged several homes and knocked down trees and power lines, Fire Chief Kevin Jones said.

In West Virginia, Jefferson County communications supervisor James Hayden said one person was injured when a possible tornado touched down at a lumber company on Monday evening. The injury was minor, and the person was treated at the scene, he said.

National Weather Service surveyors confirmed one tornado west of Atlanta near where the motorist died. The twister was determined to have peak winds of 90mph with a path that ran 1.5 miles.

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