18 dead as storms hit the Southeast
The Short Version
As many as 19 people died over the weekend as deadly storms with powerful tornadoes ripped their way across the South from Louisiana to South Carolina. The majority of deaths occurred in Georgia where 14 people were killed in storms on Sunday. Four additional deaths occurred in storms in Mississippi on Saturday. The total amount of damage has yet to be determined, but is expected to be over half a million dollars as entire neighborhoods were flattened.
A Little More Detail
There really is no such thing as an “off” season for tornadoes in the South. While we typically think of Spring as being the time most ripe for the deadly storms, temperature fluctuations in the South keep the possibility of dangerous weather present year-round. Still, the strength of this weekend’s storms, which ran across the entire Southeastern United States, were surprising and managed to catch people off guard.
The first of the deadly storms hit Saturday in Mississippi where four were killed. The storm arrived in the Hattiesburg area before daylight Saturday morning, ripping up trees that were hundreds of years old and completely closing Interstate 59 for a while. Three counties were affected by the tornado as it tore across the Southern part of the state.
Early morning also proved to be the deadliest period in Georgia as a tornado completely flattened a mobile home park in the small town of Adel, killing seven and leaving many more homeless. The tornadoes didn’t stop there, though. Later in the afternoon, another twister hit Albany, where three more were killed.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma says that 39 possible tornadoes were reported over the weekend, though not all of those have been confirmed. January has averaged roughly 38 tornadoes each year over the past decade, but rarely do they contain as much destructive energy as those this weekend. Among those confirmed so far, 30 were reported in Georgia, four in Mississippi, and one each in Louisiana and South Carolina.
While the destruction was widespread, only Georgia has declared a state of emergency.