May 6, 2021

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Severe Weather Threatens South as Tornadoes Tear Across 4 States – The New York Times

4 min read

Much of the southern United States was bracing for more severe weather on Monday evening, a day after tornadoes began tearing across the region, touching down in four states and causing widespread damage, the authorities said.

Tornado watches and warnings were issued from Oklahoma to the Carolinas on Monday, and the severe weather was blamed for at least one death, of a man who was pronounced dead after power lines and a tree fell on his vehicle outside Atlanta, the authorities said.

Tornadoes were reported to have touched down since Sunday in Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina. They left a path of destruction in their wake, including downed trees and utility poles, and buildings whose roofs were torn off.

Much of South Carolina and parts of North Carolina had been under a tornado watch on Monday evening.

A tornado watch was issued for portions of North Texas, including Dallas, and Oklahoma, until 11 p.m. local time on Monday. The Weather Service cautioned that a few tornadoes were possible, as were softball-size hail and wing gusts up to 80 m.p.h. By Tuesday, the storm conditions are expected to shift east of Texas, said Ted Ryan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

Those advisories were issued after severe weather rolled into Georgia early Monday morning. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning around 10:20 a.m. for portions of the state, including downtown Atlanta, after weather radar indicated that a tornado had developed.

Minutes after the warning was issued, the Weather Service received confirmed reports of a tornado in the area.

“Please take shelter if you are in the path of this storm,” the Weather Service said on Twitter.

In Douglasville, Ga., about 20 miles west of Atlanta, a man was pronounced dead after firefighters found him trapped inside his vehicle by power lines and a downed tree, according to Rick Martin, a spokesman for Douglas County.

There were several reports of damage in the county, including fallen trees and downed power lines. The Weather Service confirmed Monday evening that a tornado with sustained winds of up to 90 miles per hour had briefly touched down in the county, Mr. Martin said in a statement. “At least 10 homes had trees on them from the National Weather Service survey in this area,” he said.

In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms shared images on Twitter of storm damage — mostly downed trees — in her neighborhood.

“Not sure if this was a direct hit, but several neighbors have said it sounded like a freight train coming through,” Ms. Bottoms wrote.

The unsettled weather continued into Monday afternoon, when tornado warnings were issued for parts of North Carolina and South Carolina around 1:30 p.m.

Around 2:30 p.m. local time, the Weather Service urged residents in and around Lowndesville, S.C., to take cover after confirming that a tornado had touched down in the area.

In other pockets of the South on Monday, the authorities turned their attention to assessing and cleaning up the damage from tornadoes that touched down the night before.

In northeastern Mississippi, the National Weather Service deployed storm survey teams to review damage in Calhoun, Pontotoc, Itawamba and Lee Counties after reports of tornadoes that struck between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time on Sunday.

Late Sunday, the Calhoun County sheriff, Greg Pollan, said on Facebook that storms in Calhoun City, about 140 miles northeast of Jackson, had damaged several businesses and snapped utility poles. Trees had fallen onto a few homes and vehicles, he said.

As dawn broke over Calhoun County on Monday, members of the Sheriff’s Office there got a look at the damage in the daylight. They posted images and video on Facebook of the destruction, including uprooted trees and buildings without roofs.

Damage was also reported in Itawamba County in northeast Mississippi, by the border with Alabama. In Yazoo County, Miss., about 40 miles northwest of Jackson, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said it was assessing reports of damage that had come in early Monday morning.

In Kentucky, the Weather Service said it had deployed a storm survey team to assess damage in Tompkinsville, about 125 miles south of Louisville, where there were reports of tornado damage on Monday morning.

Video footage circulating on social media showed a possible tornado tossing debris into the air. Other images showed uprooted trees and damage to roofs.

Tornado warnings were also issued in portions of Tennessee early on Monday. The first was issued just before 5 a.m. local time for areas in and around Culleoka, about 56 miles south of Nashville. No damage was immediately reported in the area.

A tornado watch — meaning tornadoes were possible — was in effect for portions of Georgia and Alabama until 4 p.m. local time.

The Weather Service office in Atlanta cautioned that a couple of strong tornadoes were possible, as were hail as large as Ping-Pong balls and wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour.

Azi Paybarah contributed reporting.

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