‘I saw trees flying’: More than 100M people from New Mexico to Delaware at risk of severe weather, including tornadoes; 1 dead
Severe weather — including a possible tornado in the Atlanta area — continued to roar across the storm-battered South on Monday, a day after multiple twisters were reported in Mississippi.
In all, more than 100 million people from New Mexico to Delaware were at risk of some form of severe weather Monday afternoon and evening, the Storm Prediction Center said.
More severe storms were expected across the Southeast on Tuesday, forecasters warned. States at greatest risk included much of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, the Prediction Center said.
At least 37,000 people were without power Monday evening in Texas, Georgia and Florida, according to poweroutage.us.
Storm hazards Tuesday will include hail, flooding downpours, tornadoes and damaging, straight-line wind gusts of up to 75 mph, according to AccuWeather.
Monday morning, a tornado warning had been issued for portions of the Atlanta metro area, but it expired after the storm moved through the region.
One man was killed Monday in Douglasville, Georgia, when a falling tree brought power lines down onto his vehicle. There were reports of trees down across the Atlanta area, firefighters said.
A tornado watch remained in effect Monday afternoon for portions of Alabama and Georgia along with parts of both South and North Carolina. “Severe thunderstorms, including isolated tornadoes, can occur in the swath from central Alabama through central and northern Georgia, middle and upstate South Carolina and part of North Carolina into Monday evening,” AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
A separate tornado watch was also in effect across Texas and Oklahoma late Monday evening.
A tornado warning had been issued for parts of the Charlotte, North Carolina, metro area Monday afternoon, but it expired after the storm threat passed, the National Weather Service said.
In the southern Kentucky town of Tompkinsville, a severe storm Monday morning damaged an estimated 30 homes and knocked down trees and power lines.
The weather service also said that ongoing severe thunderstorms and heavy rains may bring damaging gusts, large hail, a few tornadoes and flash flooding across parts of the southern Plains into the middle Mississippi and lower Ohio Valleys throughout the day and evening on Monday.
Larger metro areas such as Little Rock, Arkansas; St. Louis and Indianapolis could be in the crosshairs of these dangerous thunderstorms, AccuWeather said.
On Sunday afternoon and into the nighttime hours, a line of severe storms rolled through Mississippi. Late in the day, a “tornado emergency” was declared for Tupelo and surrounding areas.
“Damage has been reported in the City of Tupelo,” the mayor’s office said in a Facebook post just before 11 p.m. “Emergency crews are currently assessing the degree of damage. Please do not get out and drive.”
Photos retweeted by the weather service in Memphis showed several downed trees and power lines. Tupelo Middle School sustained some damage, as well as houses and businesses.
There were multiple reports of damage to homes on Elvis Presley Drive, just down the street from the home where the famed singer was born.
‘I opened the door I saw trees flying’
The smell of pine is thick on Walker Road just north of Terry, Mississippi.
Residents believe a tornado ripped through the rural community Sunday night, snapping trees in half and uprooting others, according to a report from the National Weather Service.
Tyler and Taylor McPhail weren’t home as the storm front descended at about 7:45 p.m. and quickly increased in intensity.
The strong winds from the storm uprooted an oak tree in the front yard and blew it atop their single-story home, smashing through the roof of their living room.
It was the first major storm the two have experienced in their home since they moved in five years ago.
“We’re just pretty fortunate we weren’t home,” Tyler said.
About a mile up the road from the McPhail household, Claude Jackson was keeping up with the weather on his TV Sunday evening when he heard what he first thought was hail. He walked to his front door and quickly learned his home was being pelted by debris caught up in the strong winds.
“When I opened the door, I saw trees flying,” he said.
Monday morning, he was assessing the damage. Part of his roof had been ripped off, leaving a clear view of the sky from a bedroom. Tree branches littered the front yard.
News outlets also reported tornadoes near central Mississippi earlier in the day. The weather service in Jackson, Mississippi, shared several images of funnel clouds across different parts of the state.
In Yazoo County, Emergency Management Director Jack Willingham said damage around the county was extensive, but sporadic.
“It was like (the storm) was kind of hopping,” he said.
Willingham said about 30 structures were damaged and at least 10 homes were completely destroyed by a suspected tornado that came through the county. Three mobile homes were also flipped over, including one who still had a resident inside. The boy, who was not identified, wasn’t injured, Willingham said
‘Elevated fire weather threat’
In the western part of the country, a storm in Colorado continued to bring heavy snow to the central Rockies. Up to a foot of snow was forecast to accumulate by Monday night, the weather service said, and winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories were in effect across northern and central Colorado.
And in California, temperatures 10 to 15 degrees higher than average could bring a threat of wildfires.
“The combination of warm temperatures, low relative humidity, expanding drought conditions and gusty winds could produce an elevated fire weather threat,” the weather service said.
Contributing: Elinor Aspegren and Jorge Ortiz, USA TODAY; Justin Vicory and Keisha Rowe, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger; The Associated Press