Tornadoes Rip Through the South; Snow Dumped on Plains and Upper Midwest

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Heavy rain prompted an apartment evacuation in northwest Georgia one day after storms spawned tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama and dumped snow on places farther west.

The National Weather Service, citing a report from an emergency manager in Catoosa County, Georgia, said the apartments being evacuated before dawn Wednesday were near the town of Fort Oglethorpe, just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and about 110 miles northwest of Atlanta. No serious injuries were reported in the flooding.

On Tuesday, tornadoes touched down in Mississippi and Alabama as thunderstorms swept through the region, while a powerful snowstorm buried parts of Colorado and Nebraska in more than a foot of snow before crawling into the Upper Midwest.

Greg Flynn, spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said a confirmed tornado was reported just before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in eastern Newton and Lauderdale counties, largely rural areas in the eastern part of the state. Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said the storm damaged homes, toppled trees and knocked out power.

In Alabama, the National Weather Service in Birmingham reported a “confirmed large and destructive tornado” on the ground near the city of Aliceville, about 45 miles west of Tuscaloosa. Minor injuries were reported.

Later, in west Tennessee, high winds damaged several homes and school buildings in Crockett County. Public schools there were to close Wednesday as officials surveyed the damage. Law enforcement officials believed a tornado had passed through, but Weather Service meteorologists in Memphis said late Wednesday they couldn’t confirm a touchdown, The Jackson Sun reported.

The combination of snow in one part of the country and severe thunderstorms in another isn’t unusual when a powerful system moves across the country, said Greg Carbin with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

“February can feature some exciting dynamics in the atmosphere,” Carbin said. “This system we’ve had our eye on since it was in the Pacific.”

The weather system that blew in from California steadily dumped snow on the Denver area Monday and continued overnight. Heavy snowfall and powerful winds on Tuesday knocked out power, prompt schools and businesses to close, and triggered flight cancellations across a swath of states from Colorado to northern Michigan.

SOURCE: The Associated Press, Emily Wagster and Josh Funk