Thunderstorms Across Southern States Damage Homes, Buildings, and Down Power Lines

Homes and buildings were damaged and trees were blown down as a line of intense thunderstorms rolled across several Southern states, authorities said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

In the west Alabama town of Winfield, Wednesday’s storms damaged buildings in the downtown area, authorities said. Building walls collapsed and roofs were lying in roads, Winfield Police Chief Brett Burleson told WBRC-TV.

“Downtown Winfield is a dangerous area,” the Marion County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on social media. “There are confirmed live power lines down.”

Police ordered people to stay out of the downtown area as officers and sheriff’s deputies worked to assess the damage in the town, located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Birmingham.

“If you don’t have to come down here, don’t,” Burleson told WBRC. “There are lines down, glass in the road, nails.”

In northeastern Alabama’s Etowah County, an emergency manager reported that a pole barn was destroyed and at least two homes damaged.

In south Georgia, a crew from the National Weather Service planned to survey damage in Bainbridge after “a likely tornado” swept through the town, the weather service’s Tallahassee, Florida, office said. The weather service typically surveys damage before confirming that it was caused by a tornado.

The Georgia storm damaged the roof and sign of a convenience store, uprooted a tree and damaged a carport, the town’s public safety office said in a statement.

The storms prompted tornado watches and warnings Wednesday for parts of several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, but it wasn’t immediately known whether twisters caused the damage in Alabama.

The threat of severe weather persisted Thursday, with several strong storms threatening parts of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina as the system moves east.

More storms are expected in the region Friday and Saturday, the national Storm Prediction Center said.

The Southern storms come as residents in the Pacific Northwest endured bitter cold and unseasonably frigid weather in the waning days of 2021.

Heavy snow halted travel on a large portion of the main east-west highway across Washington state for more than eight hours Thursday and also snarled traffic in the Seattle and Portland, Oregon, metro areas.

Authorities closed about 80 miles (129 kilometers) of Interstate 90 over the Cascade Mountains “due to near zero visibility and adverse road conditions.” The highway was closed from about 4:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., though most vehicles were required to have chains.

In California, snow brought traffic to a halt on a major highway high in the mountains north of Los Angeles early Thursday as the last in a series of December storms that walloped the state moved through. The section of Interstate 5 was shut down before dawn, the California Highway Patrol said.

Mudslides, debris flows and rock falls caused localized problems on many other roads. The city of Malibu tweeted that firefighters and lifeguards brought 22 people to safety from a flooded campground near Leo Carrillo State Beach.

To the north, residents in mountain communities were digging out, with reports of major tree and power line damage in places including Foresthill and the Nevada City area, both northeast of Sacramento. Thousands of residents remained without power, with warnings that some could be without lights and heat for another week.

SOURCE: The Associated Press