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News / Nation & World

New storms pummel the South as a week of deadly weather marches on

Published: May 9, 2024, 8:05am
3 Photos
A wheelbarrow is seen lodged in a damaged tree after a tornado leveled dozens of homes near Omaha. Neb. on Friday, April 26, 2024.
A wheelbarrow is seen lodged in a damaged tree after a tornado leveled dozens of homes near Omaha. Neb. on Friday, April 26, 2024. (Nikos Frazier/Omaha World-Herald via AP) Photo Gallery

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — A wave of dangerous storms began washing over parts of the South early Thursday, a day after severe weather with damaging tornadoes and large hail killed at least three people in the region.

A heavy line of storms swept into Atlanta near the end of the morning rush hour. Busy hub airports in Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, reported delays Thursday morning. Tornado warnings were issued for parts of Tennessee and Alabama.

The storms continue a streak of torrential rains and tornadoes this week from the Plains to the Midwest and, now, the Southeast. At least four people have died since Monday. The weather comes on the heels of a stormy April in which the U.S. had 300 confirmed tornadoes, the second-most on record for the month and the most since 2011.

Storms had already left more than a quarter-million customers without power Thursday in North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri, according to PowerOutage.us.

A storm Wednesday in northeastern Tennessee damaged homes, injured people, toppled power lines and trees, and killed a 22-year-old man in a car in Claiborne County, north of Knoxville, officials said. A second person was killed south of Nashville in Columbia, the Maury County seat, where officials said a tornado had likely touched down and homes were blown off their foundations.

Bob Booth had just gotten home to Columbia from Georgia and was sitting down to watch television when he heard a “crazy racket.”

“I get up and look out, and it was all hell breaking loose outside,” Booth said. “Then the top half of one of my trees goes down across the road.”

Booth said he was told it would be a while before his power was restored. One neighbor, he said, lost all trees except one that would have destroyed his house: “So that guy is blessed.”

Schools were closed Thursday in several Tennessee counties. Some districts north of Atlanta canceled in-person classes or delayed start times because of storm damage overnight that included fallen trees on houses and vehicles around Clarkesville. No injuries were reported there.

“We’re just trying to clean up right now and wait for the next round,” said Lynn Smith, director of the Habersham County Emergency Management Agency.

Torrential rains led to a flash flood emergency and water rescues northeast of Nashville. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary ground stop at Nashville’s main airport, and the weather service issued a tornado emergency, its highest alert level, for nearby areas.

In North Carolina, a state of emergency was declared Wednesday night for Gaston County, west of Charlotte, after a storm that toppled power lines and trees, including one that landed on a car. One person in the car was killed, and another was taken to a hospital, officials said.

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The storms followed heavy rain, strong winds, hail and tornadoes in parts of the central U.S. on Monday, including a twister that ripped through an Oklahoma town and killed one person. On Tuesday, the Midwest took the brunt of the bad weather. Tornadoes touched down in parts of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, according to the weather service.

Michigan’s Kalamazoo area was hard hit as a FedEx facility was ripped apart, with downed power lines trapping about 50 people.

Tornadoes were also confirmed near Pittsburgh, in central Arkansas and in northern West Virginia. The West Virginia twister was at least the 11th tornado this year in the state, which sees two tornadoes in an average year.

Both the Plains and Midwest have been hammered by tornadoes this spring.

Cappelletti and White reported from Detroit. Associated Press journalists around the country contributed to this report, including Jeff Amy, Joey Cappelletti, Ed White, Rio Yamat, Heather Hollingsworth, Colleen Slevin, Jim Salter, Kathy McCormack, Sarah Brumfield, Beatrice Dupuy, Alexa St. John, Adrian Sainz, John Raby and Lisa Baumann.

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