Powerful storms swept across the South on Sunday after unleashing suspected tornadoes and flooding that killed at least eight people. (April 15)
A deadly front that drove a line of severe storms and tornadoes through much of the South rolled east on Sunday, bringing flooding and flattening a Texas town.
The death toll rose to eight and dozens more were injured after a wave of suspected tornadoes swept through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, several people remained unaccounted for and almost 100,000 homes and businesses in the region remained without power.
“There is concern that the severe thunderstorms with downpours and strong gusty winds continue to march across the Mid-Atlantic, southern New York and into southwestern New England on Sunday night,” said Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist.
Wind gusts of 60-70 mph could accompany the storms, more than enough to topple trees and power lines, she said. Pittsburgh; Cleveland; Cincinnati; Charleston, West Virginia; Atlanta; and Tallahassee, Florida, were among areas that could see the most damaging weather events, Pydynowski said.
The start time for The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia, was moved up Sunday and the crowds were gone in advance of the dangerous weather forecast for late Sunday.
Just before the Boston Marathon begins Monday morning, Pydynowski said gusty thunderstorms and downpours may pass through the city. Winds will spread across the mid-Atlantic on Monday, reaching southern and central New England by nighttime, Accuweather said.
In Texas, almost 2,000 flights were delayed or canceled Saturday and Sunday into and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport as high winds and occasional hail buffeted the area. Almost 200 miles to the Southeast, the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office said two children were killed Saturday when strong winds toppled a tree onto their family’s car.
In nearby Alto, Sheriff James Campbell said at least 25 people were injured, eight critically, after a tornado ripped through a cultural event at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site. And more than 100 miles to the west, a massive tornado estimated at EF3 strength with winds of 140 mph tore through Franklin, Texas, AccuWeather said.
Robertson County Emergency Management Coordinator Billy Huggins said more than a dozen people were injured and more than 50 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.
“The south side of Franklin looks like a war zone,” County Sheriff Gerald Yezak told Patch.com.
Mississippi was also hard hit, with Gov. Phil Bryant declaring a state of emergency on Sunday night.
Authorities in Monroe County said a 95-year-old man was killed when a tree fell on his mobile home, and several people were missing and several homes were damaged in Hamilton, a rural hamlet of about 500 people 45 miles northeast of Starkville.
County Road Manager Sonny Clay said 19 people were injured, two critically. A hospital clinic, apartment complex, firehouse and several single-family homes were damaged. Clay told the Monroe Journal that Hamilton drew the most destruction, but that damage was widespread throughout the county.
Starkville is home to Mississippi State University, and thousands of the school’s 21,000-plus students were huddled in basements and hallways as the storms roared by. The school’s crisis team was assessing the damage, spokesman Sid Salter said Sunday, adding that damage appeared to be minimal.
National Weather Service meteorologist John Moore said a possible twister also touched down Saturday in the Vicksburg, 160 miles southwest of Starkville. No injuries were reported, but several businesses and vehicles were damaged.
In Louisiana, Deputy Glenn Springfield of the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Department said two people died in floodwaters Saturday. And in Alabama, a Jefferson County employee was struck and killed by a vehicle while clearing toppled trees from a roadway.
The area at risk Sunday stretched from the upper Ohio Valley and central Appalachians to the upper Gulf Coast, AccuWeather warned. A tornado was confirmed on the east side of Shelby, Ohio, late Sunday afternoon, Accuweather said.
“The storms will take on more of a squall line set up with the greatest threats being from damaging wind gusts, flash flooding and lightning strikes,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
Contributing: Kristin Lam, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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