An outbreak of severe weather with tornadoes, strong winds, and hail hit wide portions of the Deep South over the weekend. Damages and power outages were reported in several states, including Florida, while at least three fatalities– one each in Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama– were blamed on the storms.
Waves of thunderstorms pounded areas from Texas to South Carolina as a powerful storm system barreled across the states.
In Mississippi and Alabama, more than 45 000 customers were left without electricity after damaging winds up to 121 km/h (75 mph) affected power lines. A large tornado was confirmed in southern Mississippi as well.
Many of the same areas impacted by the tornado were under flash flood warnings, with high water rescues reported in Hattiesburg.
Downed trees and power lines, as well as damaged homes, have been reported in the region. The most intense storms on Monday, April 20, 2020, were over parts of northern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Tornado watches have been issued for parts of the states, while flash flood watches are in effect for portions of the Southeast.
In Florida, storms with hail and wind gusts up to 97 km/h (60 mph) battered the areas of Dallas-Fort Worth, Galveston, and Houston. The National Weather Service (NWS) in Jacksonville confirmed one tornado was rated EF-0. Two others were confirmed in the central part of the state, although the twisters have not been classified yet.
Three fatalities were being blamed on the severe weather. In southern Alabama, an elderly man died when strong winds struck his mobile home.
"He was in a mobile home, and the mobile home was destroyed by a tornado. He was in the wreckage of the mobile home. His wife and child were with him, and they were okay," said Coroner Derek Wright.
A 70-year-old was killed as well in Marion County, Mississippi, after his home took a direct hit from the storm, according to Coroner Jessie Graham. Emergency management officials in the area said 20 other homes sustained damage.
In south Georgia, Wilcox County Coroner Janice Brown confirmed the death of a 95-year-old woman after a lightning strike presumably ignited a fire in her home.
The Storm Prediction Center received more than 250 reports of probable tornadoes, high winds, hail, and storm damage– from eastern Texas to central Florida, Sunday and Monday.
A new storm system is forecast to track across the south through Thursday, April 23, heightening risks of more severe storms and heavy rainfall. Another bout of hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes are likely.
The storm is predicted to emerge from the Southwest into the southern High Plains on Tuesday, April 21, tracking eastward while generating widespread thunderstorms in parts of the central and eastern U.S. in the next couple of days.
Featured image credit: Natty Noles
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