Picture Post: Storm force: tornadoes in the Deep South
Thursday 07 February 2008
The polls were just closing in America's Super Tuesday primary contests when the apocalypse came – not a political apocalypse but a swirl of tornadoes that ripped across the voting states of Tennessee and Arkansas, killing at least 48 people and injuring hundreds of others. Roofs flew off buildings like lids off jam jars. Cars and trucks were tossed across roads. Mobile homes crumpled, and even solidly built houses collapsed, leaving nothing but their concrete foundations standing. Phone and power lines blew down. Trees snapped.
"It looks like a war zone," the president of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, told a television reporter after a series of dormitory buildings on his campus collapsed. The university will be closed for the next two weeks to allow time for initial repairs.
Amateur footage of a tornado forming yesterday in Memphis, Tennessee
Just south of Memphis, several warehouse roofs collapsed, killing three people. "[The tornado] ripped the warehouses apart," a local police spokesman said. "The best way to describe it is it looks like a bomb went off." The wail of tornado-warning sirens punctuated the night for hours afterwards.
In a remote area north of Nashville, a natural-gas pumping station caught fire, sending a plume of flame and smoke high into the sky.
Amateur footage of the storms hitting Oxford, Mississippi - Contains some strong language
And so the stories piled up: families who escaped unscathed but lost everything; a pregnant woman who broke her arm trying to protect a child; darker tales of entire families wiped out.
The storms started to the northwest, in Kentucky, and cut their brutal swath through Arkansas and Tennessee before heading on to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, where a storm alert was still in operation yesterday morning. Meteorologists said the tornadoes were not unexpected, given the season, and may have been provoked by a spell of unusually warm weather. The winds are now expected to be followed by severe cold and snow.
There was no immediate word about disaster relief from the Bush administration. But several presidential-election contenders, including Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and Mike Huckabee, the Republican former governor of Arkansas who won a big political victory in the region, paused in their election-night speeches to mention the storms and their victims.
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Zayn Malik quits One Direction: Hundreds of workers request compassionate leave following band member's exit
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...