Storms that battered portions of Alabama and Mississippi Wednesday moved into Georgia and Florida Thursday, as forecasters warned of a day of severe weather across much of the Southeast.
While an official count has yet to be released for Wednesday’s storms, there were reports of at least 24 tornadoes in five states, and damage to dozens of homes, according to the Weather Channel.
Forecasters issued a string of tornado warnings Thursday morning around the region where Alabama, Georgia and Florida intersect. There were worries the storms would intensify as they move into South Carolina and North Carolina Thursday afternoon, but they mostly stayed below severe limits.
At least one person died and at least four tornadoes have been confirmed in Mississippi after storms swept through the state Tuesday and Wednesday.
Malary White, external affairs director for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said officials are still reviewing assessments from various counties.”This is very, very preliminary and can definitely change,” White said.
Early reports indicate at least four tornadoes have been confirmed. White said the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is waiting to get confirmation on 14 other possible tornadoes from the National Weather Service.
About 20,000 homes and business were without power and the weather service said at least two people were hurt when an apparent tornado struck southwest Alabama, destroying a house.
The weather service said at least two people were hurt when an apparent tornado struck southwest Alabama, destroying a house.
The highest risk for dangerous storms Thursday will be along the coasts of North and South Carolina, AccuWeather said.
“Scattered severe thunderstorms are expected through this evening from north Florida and south Georgia northeastward into the Carolinas and extreme southeast Virginia,” the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center said.
“Significant tornadoes, wind damage and large hail will be possible from morning into afternoon,” the Storm Prediction Center said. “Severe thunderstorms will also be possible from parts of the eastern Gulf Coast into the southern and central Appalachians.”
Forecasters advised residents in potential danger to keep monitoring conditions closely and be prepared to shelter immediately.
In North Carolina, WGHP-TV meteorologist Van Denton ordered everyone off the set during the 5 p.m. broadcast and into a makeup room to shelter in place for a few minutes after a storm with a tornado warning moved right over the station.
“I’ve never heard the roof rattle like that. We’ve never had to leave the studio during a broadcast,” said anchor Neill McNeill, who has been with the station 37 years.
In South Carolina, the severe weather threat led the state Senate president to caution senators to stay home Thursday while urging staff to work remotely for their safety. House Speaker Jay Lucas said that chamber would meet less than an hour Thursday to take up routine motions in advance of a budget debate next week — then adjourn.
“If you are in a situation where it is perilous that you come, I’m asking you not to come,” Lucas said. “If you can come, give us a quorum and do these few things we need to do, we will be out of here in a hurry.”
Severe storms, tornadoes are moving through the South. People are sharing stunning images, videos.
The damage and extent of Wednesday’s storms is still being assessed.
The actual number and strength of the tornadoes will be determined once damage surveys have been completed by the weather service, the Weather Channel said.
The weather service office in central Alabama said teams were fanning out Thursday to assess damage in at least 12 counties where tornadoes may have touched down.
“Overall, we have a lot to be grateful for, as it could have been much worse,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.
In Mississippi, Wayne County resident Mitch Hendry said he felt fortunate a tornado went by his home quickly.
“I just jumped behind the recliner and just hung on,” he said. “In 10 seconds, it was gone, but if it would have lasted a little longer, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
Contributing: The Associated Press; Gabriela Szymanowska, The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger