Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states
By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) - Strong storms were still roaring across the South on Friday, after killing two Mississippi drivers and a woman in Alabama and leaving more than 100,000 people without power across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
The threat on Friday shifted to Georgia, where multiple tornado warnings covered parts of northeast Georgia. There were no immediate reports of any damage from those storms, but the tornado threat was expected to continue well into the day in the Carolinas and Virginia.
The national Storm Prediction Center said 9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia are at a moderate risk of severe weather on Friday. It's a region that includes the Charlotte, North Carolina metro area.
Torrential downpours, large hail and a few tornadoes are among the hazards, the National Weather Service in Raleigh, North Carolina, warned about in its Friday morning hazardous weather outlook.
"An isolated strong and long-track tornado can't be ruled out," forecasters wrote.
National Weather Service forecasters said they believe multiple tornadoes hit southwest and central Mississippi on Thursday, although they won't be sure until the damage is surveyed. Heavy winds also were reported in Louisiana earlier in the day and in central Alabama as the system quickly pushed eastward.
On the back side of the system, there were also reports late Thursday of high winds in southern Oklahoma.
A Mississippi man was killed Thursday afternoon when his car hit a tree on a highway south of Philadelphia, Mississippi, Neshoba County Coroner John Stephens told local news outlets. Stephens did not immediately release the man's name.
Kenderick Magee, 24, was also killed while driving in the storm, WLBT-TV reported. Magee fatally crashed near the rural town of Gillsburg in southwest Mississippi, Amite County Coroner Campbell Sharp said.
Two minor injuries were reported in Harvey, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, when a power pole fell on two vehicles.
Alabama authorities said a woman was killed Thursday night after strong storms knocked a tree onto her mobile home in St Clair County.
Damage was heavy in the Mississippi hamlet of Learned, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Jackson. Large oaks were uprooted from saturated ground, landing on at least a dozen houses.
One belongs to the family of Jesse Qualls, a Mississippi State University student who was on his way home for Easter when the storms hit. He says his mother had gone to pick up his sister from school and returned to find a pecan tree had crashed through Qualls' bedroom and bathroom. His dog Dukey was uninjured.
Qualls said he got a tearful call from his mother, but he struggled to make it home, using his truck to push fallen trees off roads leading into town.
"I saw the house and I started freaking out," Qualls said, as residents and emergency workers sawed up other trees off streets in the 100-resident town. "My dad passed away a while ago and this is all I have left of him."
To the northeast, Scott County Emergency Management Director Mike Marlow said reports indicated a number of homes were damaged near Morton and the roof blew off a gas station near Lena. In Philadelphia, Mississippi, a wall collapsed at a medical clinic and the storm knocked down traffic signals and canopies and pushed trees onto houses, the Neshoba Democrat reported.
Damage from the storm system was reported in at least 24 of Mississippi's 82 counties.
Associated Press writer Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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