Deadly Tornadoes Strikes Central US!
Multiple tornadoes tore paths across Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana on Friday, leaving an undetermined number of people injured, and homes and businesses destroyed, emergency officials and forecasters said. A “very large super-cell” of tornadoes touched down in northern Alabama early in the day, damaging homes and a prison and leaving at least four people injured. In southern Tennessee, another twister ripped 20 homes off their foundation and submerged boats, officials said.
Tornadoes were reported to have caused severe damage around the Henrysville area in southern Indiana. A spokesman for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office told NBC News that Henrysville High School suffered damage. And the Weather Channel for only the second time issued a TORCON warning of 10 as multiple tornado-producing supercells headed across northern Kentucky — meaning forecasters at the channel believe there is a 100 percent chance of a tornado within 50 miles. The TORCON system was developed a few years ago, and the top warning was first used April 27, 2011, during the devastating tornado outbreak across the South. So far, no fatalities have been reported from the weather Friday. But there was “significant damage” to the Harrison-Ooltewah area, north of Chattanooga, Tenn., and an unknown number of people with severe and minor injuries, said Amy Maxwell, a spokeswoman for Hamilton County Emergency Services. “At least 20 homes have been ripped off the foundation,” she told msnbc.com. “We do have crews having to go out on foot … because the roadways are blocked.” The Island Cove Marina “got hit hard as well” but all people living there were accounted for, Maxwell said. A tweeted photo showed a jumble of boats and buildings. “We had one that touched down on April 27” last year, she said. “Unfortunately, we’re getting hit again. Seems like it’s starting to become a common thing. We hope that’s not the case.”
The damage in Alabama covered a 4- to 5-mile swath in northern Madison County, Paige Colburn, emergency management officer at the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency, told msnbc.com. “The reason that it is so wide is because we’re not talking about one tornado, we’re talking about a very large super cell that spawned several smaller tornadoes and there’s possibly one very large one in there, too,” she told msnbc.com. The Alabama Emergency Management Agency said two tornadoes appeared to have touched down in Limestone and Madison Counties, citing confirmation from the Huntsville National Weather Service. Four people with injuries were taken to a local hospital, but their conditions were unknown, Chris Reed, another emergency management officer at the local emergency management agency, told msnbc.com. Homes have been damaged in four communities — Harvest, Meridianville, Hazel Green and New Market — and some 30,000-35,000 people were without power, Reed said. One shelter is open.
Alabama was one of a number of states that forecasters warned may experience severe storms and twisters on Friday. “We’re forecasting an outbreak of strong tornadoes and damaging wind both today and into the overnight hours over a large portion of the eastern United States. The area of highest risk is focused on southern Illinois, southern Ohio, much of Kentucky and Middle Tennessee,” Russell Schneider, director of the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, said at a phone news conference. “In those areas there’s potential for violent long-track tornadoes during the afternoon and evening hours.” A combination of strong winds and warm moist air “reminiscent of late spring” were fueling the formation of storms into strong super-cell thunderstorms that had the potential for the extreme tornadoes, he said.
LOUISVILLE, A spokesman for Kentucky’s governor says that five people have died in severe weather in that state, bringing the death toll from Friday’s storms around the country to at least 13 people.
Terry Sebastian, a spokesman for Gov. Steve Beshear, says the people were killed in two different counties as the state was raked by a tornado-spawning weather system.
At least eight people died Friday in Indiana where tornadoes pummeled small towns in the southern part of the state.
The band of powerful storms stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes is the second deadly tornado outbreak this week.
UNDATED – Indiana authorities say at least three people have been killed by tornadoes that struck the southern portion of the state.
Officials say houses are missing near the small town of Chelsea, Ky. And the National Weather Service says there has been “extreme damage” in Henryville, a town of about 1,000 people just north of the Kentucky border. A law enforcement official also says the town of Marysville is “completely gone.”
Just to the east, in Kentucky, an apparent tornado flattened a volunteer fire station. Dozens of homes were damaged in Alabama and Tennessee.
The violent weather struck two days after storms killed 13 people in the Midwest and South.
In the Chattanooga, Tenn., area, at least 20 homes were badly damaged and six people were hospitalized after strong winds and hail lashed the area.