1 dead as vast storm rakes South, Midwest
JACKSON, Miss. — A large storm system packing high winds, hail and several possible tornadoes tore across a wide swath of the South and Midwest on Wednesday, killing one person, blacking out power to thousands and damaging homes.
The death was reported when a large tree blew down on a shed in Nashville, Tenn., where a man was sheltering, police told Nashville broadcaster WTVF-TV. Authorities did not immediately release further details when reached by The Associated Press.
In Arkansas, another person was reported injured by lightning in Arkansas during the storm's eastward trek. The severe weather system ushered in a cold front as it raced toward the Eastern seaboard, dumping rain over the region.
The rapidly changing conditions created a risk of tornadoes in the nation's midsection and South. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said the threat was greatest in recent hours in northeast Texas, northern Louisiana, northwest Mississippi, southeast Missouri and much of Arkansas.
The center said it was investigating reports of at least four possible tornadoes in states including Arkansas and Mississippi. Hail ranging up to nearly golf-ball size was also reported in some areas and barns and other buildings collapsed or were damaged, the center added.
Thousands were reported without power in Tennessee, where tornado warnings and flash flood warnings were issued for several counties and a tractor-trailer truck was blown over by high winds. Authorities east of Nashville said they were checking a possible tornado in Mount Juliet, where the top floor of a three-story building was damaged.
In Alabama, thousands more were without power early Wednesday as the storms forced schools to delay opening.
Entergy Arkansas Inc. reported at least 9,000 power outages in several communities around Arkansas at the height of the storm, including in and around Little Rock.
Power lines fell, trees were toppled and some homes suffered damage to rooftops, reports indicated. The weather service said suspected straight-line winds of up to 80 mph were reported in Arkansas late Tuesday night along with flooding in Arkansas' northeastern corner.
Police in the Arkansas community of Monticello reported a person was injured by lightning late Tuesday but the injury was not life-threatening.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency urged residents to be on guard for severe thunderstorms, high winds and possible tornadoes Wednesday.
Earlier this week, a large swath of the Midwest and South bathed in unseasonably balmy temperatures that reached the high 70s in some areas.
The temperature in the central Missouri college town of Columbia reached 77 degrees on Monday, a record for January, and students exchanged their winter coats for shorts and flip-flops as freezing rain gave way to spring-like conditions. Foul weather made a quick return, however, with a Tuesday downpour that flooded some streets near the University of Missouri campus. Early morning snow was expected Wednesday.
Chicago residents also have been whiplashed by recent weather extremes. Workers who suffered through subzero temperatures and brutal wind chills a week ago strolled through downtown without coats Tuesday as temperatures soared into the mid-60s.
Carol Krueger, who lives in the Chicago suburb of North Hoffman Estates, noted that just a few days ago she was struggling to drive through blowing snow. All she needed Tuesday was a light jean jacket, although by Thursday temperatures were barely expected to reach 20 degrees.
“It's bizarre, it's scary,” Krueger said of the swiftly changing weather.
On Monday, the National Weather Service predicted a “moderate” risk of severe weather more than 24 hours out, only the fifth time it had done so in January in the past 15 years, said Gregory Carbin, the director of the Storm Prediction Center.
A system pulling warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico was colliding with a cold front moving in from the west, creating volatility.
The nation has had its longest break between tornado fatalities since detailed tornado records began being kept in 1950, according to the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center. The last one was June 24, when a person was killed in a home in Highlands County, Fla. That was 220 days ago as of Tuesday.
The last day with multiple fatalities was June 4, when three people were killed in a mobile home in Scott County, Mo.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Steelers notebook: Bryant confident in backup Jones if Big Ben can’t play
- Penguins notebook: Maatta making strides at practice
- New Florence man charged with killing police officer
- PennDOT details closings as work continues on Parkway West
- Canon-Mac’s Gladden to play at Marist
- Fabregas: To pay or not to pay: Hospital’s bill for procedure or insurer’s rate?
- Uniontown man charged with rape
- New York City’s salt warning rule to take effect at chain restaurants
- State Supreme Court: Highmark Medicare Advantage members to retain in-network access to UPMC