Severe storms pummel US South after seven hurt by Arkansas tornado

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Severe Storms Pummel Us South After Seven Hurt By Arkansas Tornado Severe Storms Pummel Us South After Seven Hurt By Arkansas Tornado
Warning sign amid bad weather, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Emily Wagster Pettus and Jill Bleed, AP

Severe storms with isolated tornadoes and high winds have ripped across the US South, toppling trees and power lines and leaving homes and businesses damaged across several states.

At least two confirmed tornadoes injured several people on Wednesday, damaging homes and businesses and downing power lines in Mississippi and Tennessee following earlier storm damage in Arkansas, Missouri and Texas.

No deaths had been reported from the storms as of early Thursday, authorities said.


But widespread damage was reported in the Jackson, Tennessee, area and a tornado warning is in effect.

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“Significant damage” occurred to a nursing home near Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in Jackson, officials said.

In Nashville, Tennessee, panelling fell five storeys from the side of a city centre hotel on Wednesday evening and onto a roof of a building below.

The fire department warned the debris could become airborne as high winds continued, and some hotel guests were moved to other parts of the building due to concerns that the roof would become unstable.


A storm-toppled tree rests on the roof of a gazebo at Battlefield Park in Jackson, Mississippi (AP)

No injuries were immediately associated with the collapse.

Elsewhere, a warehouse roof collapsed as the storms moved through Southaven, Mississippi, near Memphis, police said. The building had been evacuated and no injuries were reported.

The Mississippi senate suspended its work on Wednesday as weather sirens blared during a tornado watch in Jackson. Some employees took shelter in the capitol basement.

Earlier on Wednesday, a tornado that struck Springdale, Arkansas, and the adjoining town of Johnson, about 145 miles north-west of Little Rock, injured seven people, two critically, officials said.


Workers begin cleanup at the George Elementary School gym (The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)

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The National Weather Service said that tornado would be rated “at least EF-2”, which would mean wind speeds reached 111-135mph.

“Search and rescue teams have been deployed, as there are significant damages and injuries,” Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson said.

In north-west Missouri, an EF-1 tornado with wind speeds around 90mph struck St Joseph on Tuesday night, according to the weather service.

That tornado damaged two homes, but no injuries were reported there. Another EF-1 tornado with wind speeds around 100mph touched down briefly before dawn Wednesday in a rural subdivision 25 miles east of Dallas, damaging two roofs, the weather service reported.


The storms come a week after a tornado in a New Orleans neighbourhood carved a path of destruction during the overnight hours and killed a man.

More than 8,000 power outages were reported in Arkansas, while outages totalled about 44,000 in Mississippi, 26,000 each in Louisiana and Alabama and 24,000 in Tennessee.

Strong winds in Louisiana overturned semitrailers, peeled the roof from a mobile home, sent a tree crashing into a home and knocked down power lines, according to weather service forecasters.

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Ahead of the storms, schools in Memphis and dozens in Mississippi closed early or conducted classes online as a precaution against having children in crowded buildings or on buses.


An engineer removes some of the limbs and trunk from this downed tree that was felled by strong winds on the grounds of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion (AP)

Officials in various Mississippi counties opened safe locations for people worried about staying in their homes during the storm.

Firefighters, meanwhile, have been trying to get handle on a wildfire spreading near Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, amid mandatory evacuations as winds whipped up ahead of the approaching storm front.

The fire, which was not contained, had expanded to about 250 acres as of Wednesday afternoon, and one person was injured, officials said.

A plume of smoke rose above one community not far from where 2016 wildfires ravaged the tourism town of Gatlinburg, killing 14 people and damaging or destroying about 2,500 buildings.

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