2 Dead as More Storms Move Through Eastern U.S.


At least two people were dead on Wednesday after strong storms swept through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, bringing intense rain, winds and hail in some areas. The severe weather arrived a day after widespread storms pummeled the Midwest, and tornadoes tore through Michigan.

In Claiborne County in northeast Tennessee, one person was killed after a tree fell on a vehicle as storms passed through the area around 10 a.m. local time, according to the county’s office of emergency management.

Another person died on Wednesday evening in Maury County, after a “large and destructive” tornado was spotted near Spring Hill, Tenn., about 35 miles south of Nashville. About 10 miles away, the twister hit near Columbia, a city of about 45,00 residents. The death was confirmed by Rita Thompson, a spokeswoman for Maury Regional Health, a hospital in Columbia.

The storm left a trail of debris and people trapped in damaged homes, said Pat Woodmansee, the assistant director of the county’s emergency management agency.

Three patients were hospitalized with injures that weren’t life-threatening and a fourth was in serious condition, Ms. Thompson said.

As storms continued to batter the Midwest for a third day and moved into the Eastern United States on Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service issued a string of tornado warnings in cities across Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.

In Williamson County in southern Illinois, the Weather Service issued a tornado warning after a “confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado” was spotted on Wednesday afternoon. There were no immediate reports of damage in the area.

More than 40,000 customers were without power across Tennessee on Wednesday evening, according to Poweroutage.us, as most of the state was under a tornado watch and some parts faced heavy rains and flash flooding.

More severe storms were expected through the evening from Texas to North Carolina, according to forecasters.

About 21 million people were under either an enhanced or moderate risk of severe weather — the third and fourth levels of intensity, out of five — on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

“Don’t let your guard down!” the National Weather Service office in Nashville said on social media Wednesday afternoon. “We’re in the ‘lull’ right now before the main line tonight. Our environment is very unstable so any storm that develops ahead of the line this afternoon could turn strong to severe very fast.”

Here’s what to know about the storms:

  • More than 20 million people in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas were under a tornado watch on Wednesday night.

  • The most intense storms were expected to hit a corridor including the cities of Nashville and Clarksville, Tenn., with about four million people potentially affected by large hail, tornadoes and damaging winds.

  • A wider area of about 17 million people from Texas to North Carolina, including the cities of Memphis, St. Louis and Little Rock, Ark., face an enhanced risk of severe weather.

  • Heavy rain also prompted flash flood warnings on Wednesday for parts of Tennessee and Missouri. Forecasters said that flooding had already been reported in cities like Cole Camp and Lincoln in Missouri, and could spread to small creeks, streams, highways and other low-lying areas.

  • Nearly 50 tornadoes were reported from Oklahoma to Ohio over the past two days, as severe storms wrought damage throughout the Midwest.

The storms brought strong winds and caused power outages. About 28,000 customers were still without power in Michigan on Wednesday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us.

Among the hardest hit counties was Kalamazoo, in southern Michigan, where officials said that tornadoes damaged nearly 200 mobile homes and winds were so strong that they lifted some homes away. At least 16 people were injured, the authorities said, though none seriously.

About 50 workers were rescued from a FedEx depot center in Kalamazoo County after a tornado wrecked the building and stranded them inside. The authorities in Oklahoma said a tornado that was up to two miles wide caused widespread destruction on Monday, killing one person in Barnsdall, and damaging up to 40 homes in the small town.

Judson Jones contributed reporting.





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