Massive storms with heavy winds in Southeast blamed for two deaths
In this image made from video and released by WSB TV in Atlanta, a tornado moves through the town of Adairsville, Ga. on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013. A fire chief says a storm that roared across northwest Georgia has left overturned vehicles on Interstate 75 northwest of Atlanta, and crews are responding to reports of people trapped in storm-damaged residential and commercial buildings. (AP Photo/WSB TV) MANDATORY CREDIT Purchase photo reprints »
Jean Fogus, left, and her daughter Pamela Luna stand on there porch after tornado touched down damaging the siding, uprooted a tree and knocked out power to there home along Batson Drive Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in Ashland City, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) Purchase photo reprints »
Thomas Ivey carries section of a tree he cut up after it was blown over by tornado that hit the corner of his friend's house Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in Ashland City, Tenn. Around 25 homes in Ashland City had minor damage. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) Purchase photo reprints »
Harold Grant tries to repair his front door awning before cutting up a tree that broke in his front yard after a tornado touched down, damaging 25 homes and knocking out power Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in Ashland City, Tenn. Around 25 homes in Ashland City had minor damage. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) Purchase photo reprints »
ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A massive storm system raking the Southeast hammered a Georgia town on Wednesday, overturning cars on an interstate and killing at least one person there, authorities said.
Bartow County Fire Chief Craig Millsap said the body was found in the storm damage but did not have further details on how the person died. The same system also was blamed for a death in Tennessee. Most dangerous were powerful wind gusts that in several places were powerful enough to overturn tractor-trailers.
There were reports that people were trapped in homes and businesses, and television footage showed large sections of a sprawling manufacturing plant had been destroyed.
Footage also showed a funnel cloud roaring through the downtown area of Adairsville, about 60 miles northwest of Atlanta, flipping cars and demolishing a home. Interstate 75 was closed in both directions after the storm flipped cars onto their roofs and tossed them onto the grassy shoulder.
At least two tornadoes were confirmed and several more suspected, and conditions remained ripe for more. Since Tuesday, the system had caused damage across a swath from Missouri to Georgia.
In recent days, people in the South and Midwest had enjoyed unseasonably balmy temperatures in the 60s and 70s. A system pulling warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico was colliding with a cold front moving in from the west, creating volatility.
Police said high winds toppled a tree onto a shed in Nashville, Tenn., where a man had taken shelter, killing him.
Across the region, downed power lines, trees and tree limbs were making it difficult to reach people who needed help.
Another person was reported injured by lightning in Arkansas during the storm’s eastward trek. Two people suffered minor injuries when a mobile home was blown off its foundation in Kentucky.
In Tennessee, officials confirmed that a tornado with peak wind speeds of 115 mph touched down in Mount Juliet. No serious injuries were reported there, though the path of damage was about 150 yards wide, including homes, a warehouse and an automotive business.
Hail ranging up to nearly golf-ball size was also reported in some areas.
Thousands were reported without power in Tennessee, where tornado warnings and flash flood warnings were issued for several counties and a tractor-trailer was blown over by high winds.
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.