Tornado Outbreak Hits South, Killing at Least 23 in Alabama – The Weather Channel

At Least 23 Dead in Lee County, Alabama Tornado

The search resumes Monday for victims of a vicious tornado outbreak that ripped across the South on Sunday killing at least 23 people in Alabama.

The violent storms left debris strewn across southern Alabama and Georgia, the Florida Panhandle and into parts of South Carolina. More than 10,000 homes and businesses still had no electricity as of 8 a.m. Monday, according to poweroutage.us.

“Much colder air is pushing into the South from the Midwest, and that will make conditions even worse for those without power into midweek,” weather.com meteorologist Christopher Dolce said. Parts of Alabama and Georgia will see low temperatures in the 20s and low 30s each morning Tuesday through Thursday”

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office told local media that no fewer than 23 people were killed and more than 50 people were hurt when the tornado roared through the community of Beauregard in southern Alabama county shortly after 2 p.m. CST.

Sheriff Jay Jones said at a new conference Monday morning that the number of missing people was in double digits. He added, however, that some of those may be people who left the area and haven’t contacted family members.

He said the dead included children but he had no specific count.

“It’s extremely upsetting to me to see these people hurting like this,” Jones said. “This is a tight-knit community of tough, resilient people, and this has knocked them down.”

“It hurts my heart too see this,” he said.

Hospitals in the Beauregard area have canceled elective surgeries so they can care for the number of people injured in the storms, Dave Malkoff of The Weather Channel reported.

The National Weather Service said the twister was at least EF3 in strength and was a half-mile wide or more.

Sunday was the deadliest day for tornadoes in the United States since May 20, 2013.

“We’ve still got people being pulled out of rubble,” Lee County Coroner Bill Harris told AL.com. “We’re going to be here all night.”

A makeshift morgue was set up in a parking lot and medical examiners from other locations were coming to assist in identifying the victims.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she would extend the current state of emergency to provide state resources for areas damaged by the storms.

“Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives in the storms that hit Lee County today,” Ivey said in a tweet. “Praying for their families & everyone whose homes or businesses were affected.”

A vehicle is caught under downed trees along Lee Road 11 in Beauregard, Alabama, Sunday, March 3, 2019, after a powerful storm system passed through the area. (Kara Coleman Fields/Opelika-Auburn News via AP)<img class=”styles__noscript__2rw2y” src=”https://s.w-x.co/util/image/w/ap19063063925259.jpg?v=at&w=485&h=273″ srcset=”https://s.w-x.co/util/image/w/ap19063063925259.jpg?v=at&w=485&h=273 400w, https://s.w-x.co/util/image/w/ap19063063925259.jpg?v=ap&w=980&h=551 800w” >

About 3:20 p.m. CST, the NWS issued a tornado emergency after a large and destructive tornado was confirmed near Smiths Station, also in Lee County.

Smiths Station Mayor Bubba Copeland told The Weather Channel that at least 12 houses were flattened.

“We have a lot of mobile homes turned upside down,” Copeland said.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported in Smiths Station.

(MORE: The 10 Worst U.S. Tornado Outbreaks)

Copeland said Lee County schools are canceled Monday because “several huge holes are on top of the (elementary) school.”

The storm also destroyed the Buck Wild Saloon and damaged a gas station. It also toppled a cell phone tower across U.S. 280.

“I’m begging people to stay home … and stay off the roads,” Copeland said, so search and rescue efforts can continue.

The Lee County storm warnings were two of several tornado warnings issued for Alabama and Georgia on Sunday afternoon.

Reports said multiple homes were damaged in Dupree, Alabama, south of Dothan. Other reports said the airport and a fire station were damaged in Eufaula, Alabama.

Georgia

Some 30 miles north of Tallahassee, the town of Cairo and its 9,500 residents suffered a direct hit from what appeared to be a tornado on radar. Shortly after, authorities reported widespread damage in the town, but it was unclear if there were any injuries.

Damage is seen to a structure in Cairo, Georgia, on Sunday, March 3, 2019. (Twitter/Eli Pyrz)<img class=”styles__noscript__2rw2y” src=”https://s.w-x.co/util/image/w/D0x7qa3X4AAoW0f.jpg?v=at&w=485&h=273″ srcset=”https://s.w-x.co/util/image/w/D0x7qa3X4AAoW0f.jpg?v=at&w=485&h=273 400w, https://s.w-x.co/util/image/w/D0x7qa3X4AAoW0f.jpg?v=ap&w=980&h=551 800w” >

Speaking with Cairo Mayor Booker Gainor, Tallahassee Democrat reporter Jeffrey Burlew tweeted that dozens of structures were damaged or destroyed and some residents were trapped in their homes after the storm struck the town Sunday night.

It’s pretty bad,” Gainor told the Democrat. “We have a lot of trees down, debris and power lines. We have trees completely through houses. You would think a hurricane came after this, the way it looks.”

Several towns in Georgia reported damage earlier Sunday from several tornadoes that were confirmed on radar by the NWS. In the town of Talbotton, located some 35 miles northeast of Columbus, several people were injured when a damaging storm rolled through the area, Talbot County Emergency Management Agency director Leigh Ann Erenheim told the Associated Press.

“The last check I had was between six and eight injuries,” Erenheim said in a phone interview with the AP. “From what I understand it was minor injuries, though one fellow did say his leg might be broken.”

Social media was also sharing reports of damage in Perry, Georgia.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said trees were down and some houses were damaged, the Macon Telegraph reported.

While following the storm, Peach County Sheriff’s Sgt. Shane Brooks told the Macon Telegraph he was nearly hit directly by the tornado as he drove down Duke Road in Byron.

“It was moving so fast I didn’t have time do anything but just sit there and hold on,” he told the Telegraph. “It was not something I would want to experience again.”

Crawford County Fire Chief Randall Pate said a tornado destroyed four homes. Pate also reported one injury: a woman whose ankle was broken when her home was damaged.

Florida

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office said five homes were destroyed and another five damaged when severe storms hit the Florida Panhandle. At least two people were taken to a hospital.

The NWS said a tornado was confirmed south of Quincy, Florida, in Gadsden County, and another was spotted near Crawfordville in Wakulla County.

A radar-confirmed tornado spread debris across Interstate 10 in Walton County, Florida, the AP reported. The eastbound lanes of the interstate had to be closed for cleanup.

South Carolina

Storms caused numerous reports of damage in and around Columbia Sunday night. The NWS said possible tornadoes caused damage to a church in Red Bank, and ripped a roof off a home and blew recreational vehicles onto their sides near Lexington.

Damage from a severe storm is seen in Crawford County, Georgia, on Sunday, March 3, 2019. (Peach County Sheriff's Office)<img class=”styles__noscript__2rw2y” src=”https://s.w-x.co/util/image/w/Peach-County-tornado.jpg?v=at&w=485&h=273″ srcset=”https://s.w-x.co/util/image/w/Peach-County-tornado.jpg?v=at&w=485&h=273 400w, https://s.w-x.co/util/image/w/Peach-County-tornado.jpg?v=ap&w=980&h=551 800w” >

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