Thousands without power after storms sweep US south

Source: BBC

More than 100,000 have been left without power after strong winds and possible tornadoes swept across parts of the southern US on Wednesday.

Areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana were under severe thunderstorm warnings, including potentially “very large hail and damaging winds”, said meteorologists.

Witnesses reported tornadoes touching down in Alabama.

Storm warnings are still in place for swathes of Alabama and Georgia.

Daily hailstorms have also plagued the southern plains of the US since Saturday.

As of 0715 EST (1115 GMT) on Thursday, more than 106,000 people were still without power in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia, according to

Of these, the greatest number – about 47,000 – were in Alabama, where at least two tornadoes are believed to have touched down.

The extent of the damage remains unclear. In the town of Eufaula, mayor Jack Tibbs told local station WSFA-TV that at least one building collapsed and 40 trees were downed by a tornado. No injuries have so far been reported.

In neighbouring Georgia, two people narrowly escaped a house that collapsed in Quail County Plantation, the town’s sheriff was quoted as saying by local media. Trees and downed power lines were also reported in other parts of the state. I

In Texas, vehicles were blown off a highway by strong winds, Sheriff Larry Rowe told the local KYTX-TV channel. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Meteorologist John Delock said that wind gusts in parts of Alabama reached 60mph (96 km/h).

Another NWS meteorologist, Juan Hernandez said: “It’s a little late in the year to be getting daily hailstorms across the southern plains, this number of consecutive days.”

Any hail over 1in in diameter is considered large. When it exceeds 2in, as was forecast for Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, it becomes dangerous, he said.

“If it hits you in the wrong spot it can cause death,” he said.

He blamed the weather on unusually high amounts of wind shear, when the wind moves at different speeds and directions in the upper levels of the atmosphere, where temperatures are much lower.

On Monday, local forecasters described “supersized” chunks of hail – 5in (13cm) in diameter – that smashed car windshields in Mansfield, Texas.

Mr Hernandez said the storms are expected to give way at the weekend to triple-digit temperatures that may last into early next week.

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