April 24, 2024

Millions of people still under the tornado watch as severe storms batter the Midwest and Southeast

Hundreds of thousands of people were without power, millions more remained under tornado watches A severe storm system continued to move eastward Wednesday afternoon. Severe weather swept through the Ohio and Tennessee valleys earlier this week, bringing heavy rain, hail and suspected tornadoes to a number of US states, leaving its mark in the rubble.

Only a handful of injuries have been reported so far, with 10 being the highest number of injuries reported in one place yet, after the storm hit Jeffersonville, Indiana, overnight. One suspected storm-related death was reported in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where flooding occurred Monday.

A tornado warning was in effect for four central Florida counties, with a combined population of nearly 6.5 million, until at least 5 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. The watch area includes several major cities, including Orlando, Gainesville, Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

The advisory for those counties noted that strong winds up to 75 miles per hour and a few tornadoes were possible, along with hail the size of marbles. Meteorologists issue a tornado warning when thunderstorms occur in places where atmospheric conditions could potentially set the stage for a tornado, but that type of advisory doesn’t necessarily mean one will occur. A tornado warning is issued when the onset of a tornado is imminent.

Tornado watches ordered for other southeastern regions, including parts of Georgia and South Carolina, were lifted earlier on Wednesday. But tens of millions of people elsewhere in the US were still told to brace for storms and possible flooding, especially in parts of the Midwest and Northeast.

Millions of people in central Florida were placed under tornado watch Wednesday.

National Weather Service / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Meteorologists also warned that eastern Virginia and upper North Carolina could be hit by strong thunderstorms Wednesday afternoon as a band of unstable weather gradually spreads to the southeast.

“Storms that could produce a few tornadoes and damaging winds will be possible this afternoon in eastern Virginia and the surrounding area, and in northern and central Florida,” according to the latest outlook from the Storm Prediction Center.

Severe thunderstorms and several possible tornadoes wreaked havoc on communities in the Ohio and Tennessee valleys on Tuesday, prompting West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear to declare a state of emergency.

Severe weather Kentucky
Firefighters, right, along with the Anchorage Middletown Fire Department, check homes for gas leaks after severe storms moved through Prospect, Kentucky, Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

Timothy D. Easley / AP

In West Virginia, video captured Tuesday afternoon showed high winds picking up debris in the city of Charleston, where the weather service said radar indicated a tornado had blown through earlier in the morning. The governor said in his statement that the storms had toppled trees, knocked out power, blocked roads and caused flooding.

Parts of Kentucky were also hit hard by the storms. Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg declared a state of emergency for the city Tuesday evening as officials worked to assess and respond to what he described as “severe damage.” Images from Prospect, just outside Louisville, showed tree trunks, branches and other debris strewn across the lawns of homes and along residential streets.

In nearby Nelson County, firefighters also shared images of destruction.

At 8:55 a.m. on this date, NENFPD responded to the 7500 block of Lawrenceburg Road for a reported gas leak. Commando 401 and…

Posted by Northeast Nelson Fire Protection District on Tuesday, April 2, 2024

The National Weather Service said it received 16 reports of tornadoes throughout the day Tuesday from six different states in the storm’s path: Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama and Georgia.

Two reports came from Tennessee, where about 40,000 homes and businesses were without power Tuesday morning after an electrical substation was struck by lightning, the Associated Press reported, citing a utility based in Memphis. Two other stations were affected by that first strike.

By midday, meteorologists said radar confirmed at least one tornado had touched down in Sunbright, a small city in northeastern Tennessee, according to CBS affiliate WVLT-TV. According to the weather service log, a tornado was spotted along the highway in that area.

On Tuesday evening, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said it was aware of an “unconfirmed tornado impacting the Sunbright community in Morgan County.” No injuries were immediately reported.

Tornado rips through Sunbright, Tennessee
A utility worker walks past buildings damaged by a tornado on April 3, 2024 in Sunbright, Tennessee.

Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

WVLT-TV shared video footage of the aftermath in Morgan County on Wednesday, showing some homes and buildings partially or completely destroyed. National Weather Service representatives told the station they would be surveying damage in the area.

Another confirmed tornado touched down shortly before midnight in Conyers, Georgia, just east of Atlanta, the weather service said. An emergency management official in the area told CBS News early Wednesday that some injuries had been reported, but none were considered serious or life-threatening.

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