(Trends Wide) — Strong storms battering the southern United States have left at least one person dead, downed trees and power lines and may have spawned tornadoes, with more severe weather possible as they move east.
More than 35 million people were at some level of risk for severe storms Tuesday, especially from the Gulf Coast states to the Carolinas, but also from northeastern Oklahoma to Missouri, the Storm Prediction Center said.
In East Texas, a middle-aged man was killed Tuesday morning in the community of Whitehouse, southeast of Tyler, when a tree fell on a tow vehicle he was staying in as a storm brewed, the Smith County Emergency Management Coordinator.
The victim’s name was not released. The county was assessing damage in the area after reports of several downed trees on homes and trees on roadways, coordinator Jay Brooks said.
In general, damaging wind gusts, sometimes in excess of 60 mph, are possible in parts of the southeast. And “several tornadoes are possible throughout the region, including the risk of a strong tornado,” the prediction center said.
The most serious risk — a level 3 of 5 — exists for more than 4.8 million people in parts of the Florida Panhandle, southern and eastern Alabama, central and southern Georgia and parts of South Carolina, the report said. center.
Thunderstorms and tornadoes hit parts of the South on Tuesday. The Storm Prediction Center said there were 31 reports of tornadoes from Mississippi to South Carolina as of 5:45 p.m. ET.
At least five possible tornadoes were reported in Mississippi, downing trees in Jefferson Davis and Covington counties northwest of Hattiesburg, as well as Newton and Scott counties east of Jackson, the National Weather Service said.
Downed trees and power lines near the southwestern Alabama community of Coffeeville could also have been caused by a tornado, the weather service said.
Large hail was reported in parts of Mississippi and Alabama, according to the weather service.
Tornado watches were in effect Tuesday night for parts of Florida, central and southern Georgia, the weather service said.
The following cities will see their greatest chance for severe thunderstorms between 4 pm and 10 pm ET: Tallahassee, Florida; Savannah, Ga.; Charleston, South Carolina; and Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington in North Carolina.
Much of metro Atlanta is under a flash flood warning, according to the National Weather Service. Up to 3 inches of rain had fallen in the area and more light to moderate showers are expected to continue through Tuesday afternoon. Several gauges listed on the National Weather Service’s Southeast River Forecast Center website showed minor flooding in the area.
Storms cause damage in Texas
The storms battered parts of Texas Monday night into early Tuesday, packing winds that damaged some homes and businesses outside Dallas-Fort Worth and, in one case, overturned a tow vehicle, WFAA reported. Trends Wide affiliate.
Amber Zeleny’s husband had just helped their daughter out of the trailer when it flipped more than once in the backyard of their home west of Egan, a Johnson County community about 20 miles south of Fort Worth, reported WFAA.
The trailer appeared to tip him over and he was sent to a hospital with injuries, but told a reporter he was fine, according to WFAA.
“I’m standing in the front door looking at everything, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God,'” Zeleny told WFAA.
WFAA aerial video showed roof damage to buildings in rural Johnson County, as well as Collin County, northeast of Dallas.
Four people were rescued Monday night from fast-moving floodwaters in McKinney, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas, authorities said. The McKinney Fire Department said on Twitter who carried out three separate water rescues. Nobody was hurt.
Severe weather possible in the South this Wednesday
The severe weather is the latest in a series of storm systems that have battered the southern United States for three weeks in a row.
The first system spawned a deadly EF-3 tornado outside New Orleans and 25 tornadoes in Texas last month.
Many of the same areas that have seen severe weather in recent weeks will be threatened again over the next week, Bill Bunting of the Storm Prediction Center told Trends Wide.
“Very moist air flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, which has helped storms develop in recent weeks, is once again what we will see this week,” Bunting said.
By Wednesday, a separate system will form, bringing another round of storms to the south and extending the severe threat for another day. The highest risk – a level 3 of 5 – covers about 10 million people in Atlanta; Birmingham and Tuscaloosa in Alabama; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, the prediction center said.
For this Thursday, the threat diminishes, as the storms move away from the east coast. While the system is bringing storms primarily to the south, we will still see rain Thursday across much of the East Coast.
Anywhere from Florida to New England will rain, so there could be some travel delays at some major airports on Wednesday and Thursday as this system progresses.
Trends Wide’s Dave Hennen, Gene Norman, Jennifer Gray, Rebekah Riess and Chris Boyette contributed to this report.