April 23, 2024

Millions of people in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, were under a tornado watch, and thousands were without power on Wednesday morning, after large hail and strong winds uprooted swept through the Ohio Valley and moved east on Tuesday.

Early Wednesday, more than 200,000 customers were without power in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia, according to Poweroutage.us, a site that tracks outages. The majority were in West Virginia, with more than 100,000 reported to be without power.

The tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service was in effect until 1 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday and included Tallahassee, Fla., and Savannah, Ga. The tornado watch did not include Atlanta, but the area was under a flash flood warning because of thunderstorms producing heavy rain, forecasters said. A tornado warning was in effect for parts of Georgia early Wednesday as well. (A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area, and a warning is issued when one is imminent.)

On Tuesday evening, there were reports of tornadoes in Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio and in Kentucky, according to the National Weather Service. There was one storm-related death in Oklahoma, the Tulsa Police Department said, but it did not provide further details.

In Conyers, Ga., a tornado downed multiple trees and power lines early Wednesday, said Dan Morgan, the director of Rockdale County Emergency Management Agency. The tornado in an Atlanta suburb was confirmed by radar just after midnight, said Nikole Listemaa, a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service office serving Atlanta.

The severe weather was part of a powerful storm system that was moving east after hitting parts of Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas on Monday.

As of 5 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday morning, almost 2.5 million people remained under a tornado watch, according to the National Weather Service.

The same storm would probably produce snow and wind in the Northeast through Friday, according to the National Weather Service. And on Thursday, heavy snow will develop over parts of the Central Appalachians, the Weather Service said.

This week, Kentucky declared a state of emergency.

“We have reports of substantial damage to a number of structures — and, thankfully, as of right now, we are not aware of any fatalities,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement.

Weather officials encouraged people living in areas where a tornado watches escalated to tornado warnings to move to a safe place, such as a basement or the interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building.

Forecasters on Monday had also faced an outage that affected a key part of the nation’s weather tracking system, potentially making it harder for them to warn people about the severe weather. The service had returned to normal by 6:30 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

Forecasters expected the storm system to move into New England on Wednesday and Thursday. More than 6 million people were under a winter storm warning on Wednesday morning, many of them in New England. Boston will probably face heavy rain, river flooding, wet snow and strong winds on Wednesday and Thursday. The threat of severe thunderstorms and excessive rainfall ends on Thursday, forecasters said.

John Yoon and Claire Moses contributed reporting.

Source link