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Two killed in severe storms as 41 tornadoes reported across South

Warnings of twisters from southern Mississippi to the Georgia and South Carolina coasts

Louise Boyle
Senior Climate Correspondent, New York
Wednesday 06 April 2022 17:08 BST
Dozens of tornadoes rip across the US South

Two people are dead after powerful storms swept across the US South, with 41 tornadoes reported in five states and forecasters warning that more dangerous weather is on the way.

A woman was killed in Pembroke, Georgia after a suspected tornado left several buildings partly destroyed. A person identified as WM Soloman, 71, was killed in Whitehouse, Texas after a tree fell on his home in high winds, the local mayor said.

More than eight million people were placed under tornado watch late on Tuesday amid non-stop alerts from the National Weather Service for areas from southern Mississippi to the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.

A huge, wedge-shaped tornado, around a mile wide, was spotted in South Carolina, throwing debris ten thousand feet into the air. Homes were destroyed and trees stripped back to their bare trunks by the force of the winds.

Multiple suspected tornadoes struck the state, and also in neighbouring Georgia, where power lines were downed and transformers exploded. Thousands of homes across Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Missouri and Arkansas were without power on Wednesday morning.

In Columbia, South Carolina’s state capital, members at the State House were rushed to the basement due to a tornado warning. Republican state lawmaker, Bobby J Cox, shared a picture of government officials standing next to some stored Christmas trees and lockers, and tweeted: “Tornado warning forced the legislature into the State House basement. Never seen this part of the capital. Stay safe out!”

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport and Charlotte’s Douglas airport were reporting dozens of delayed flights on Wednesday morning.

Severe thunderstorms capable of producing swaths of damaging gusts, large hail, and several tornadoes are expected across southeastern states and near the southern Appalachians until Wednesday night, the NWS Storm Prediction Center said.

More than 10 million people in metro areas including Atlanta; Birmingham; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, will be at risk.

There is much debate among scientists on whether the climate crisis is playing a role in tornado outbreaks.

Twisters are tricky to study partly because they are relatively short-lived. In the years before cell phones, data largely relied on people spotting tornadoes and calling them into the National Weather Service.

However the body of research is growing. A study in 2014 from the National Severe Storms Laboratory found that in the past 50 years, clusters of tornadoes have become more common.

A separate 2018 study found that over the past four decades, America’s “Tornado Alley” appears to be shifting towards the East Coast, away from typical paths through Kansas and Oklahoma.

AP contributed to this report

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