Storms leave trail of damage across South

The area around Jacksonville State University was one of the hardest-hit areas Tuesday evening.

Posted: Mar 20, 2018 9:40 AM

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Daybreak Tuesday revealed widespread damage after a night of violent weather in the Deep South, with a college campus shattered by an apparent tornado and thousands of buildings and vehicles battered by hail as large as baseballs.

The area around Jacksonville State University was among the hardest hit as storms swept across the South, part of a large system that prompted tornado warnings Monday in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Using couch cushions for protection, Richard Brasher hid in the bathtub with his wife, daughter and two grandchildren as the storm passed near the college. The roar was terrifying, said Brasher, 60.

"I thought we were gone," he said. "It happened so fast."

Several shelters opened, schools were closed, trees and power lines were down, and Jacksonville State advised people to avoid traveling near campus Tuesday morning. Most students were away for spring break.

Part of the roof was ripped off the nursing school and Pete Mathews Coliseum, a 3,500-seat basketball arena. Pieces of lumber and bent metal covered the ground along with insulation that looked like yellow cotton candy.

To the west in Cullman, the lots of automobile dealerships were full of cars and trucks that no longer had windows. The sheriff shared a photo of a county jail bombarded by hail but said the prisoners were fine.

Schools were closed in several counties because of damage. Alabama Power Co. said more than 9,000 homes and businesses were without electricity.

Forecasters had warned that the storms would threaten more than 29 million people, raising the risk of powerful tornadoes, damaging winds and hail the size of tennis balls.

Cities in northern Alabama reported power outages and the National Weather Service in Huntsville reported at least three confirmed tornadoes in the area.

Officials suspected a tornado was to blame for the damage in Jacksonville, where Brasher said he was standing in his hall when the kitchen windows exploded.

With electrical transformers exploding and trees crashing down all around, Brasher said, it felt like wind "picked up and shook the whole house."

"We were scared to death. It blew the paint off my house," Brasher said.

The National Weather Service said five teams were out in Alabama assessing storm damage.

The weather service was also sending survey crews to at least two Georgia communities to investigate whether tornadoes caused widespread damage to homes there.

In Haralson, Georgia, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Atlanta, the Haralson County School District said schools would be closed Tuesday due to storm damage "throughout our community." Damage was also reported in Fairburn, Georgia, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Atlanta.

The same storm system that battered Alabama and Georgia was taking aim Tuesday at a large part of Florida and coastal communities in Georgia and the Carolinas.

Much of north Florida and the entire Georgia and South Carolina coasts would be at an "enhanced" risk for severe storms Tuesday, which could include damaging winds, large hail and a few tornadoes, the National Storm Prediction Center. A small part of the North Carolina coastline was also included in the area most likely to see severe weather.

The area most at risk for Tuesday's storms is heavily populated, with more than 10 million people and major Florida cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina.

___

Reeves reported from Birmingham, Alabama. Mallory Moench in Montgomery, Alabama; and Jeff Martin and Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 71°
Florence
Scattered Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 75°
Fayetteville
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18766

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2321118
Jefferson1901104
Montgomery185843
Tuscaloosa83616
Marshall7089
Franklin5858
Lee56234
Shelby52819
Tallapoosa43466
Butler42118
Walker3862
Elmore3749
Chambers36026
Madison3534
Unassigned3062
Morgan3021
Baldwin2939
Dallas2923
Lowndes26512
Etowah26312
DeKalb2573
Autauga2415
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2176
Pike2120
Colbert1902
Hale1859
Russell1810
Barbour1771
Marengo1756
Lauderdale1722
Calhoun1673
Wilcox1577
Choctaw15310
Cullman1521
Clarke1492
St. Clair1351
Randolph1287
Dale1240
Marion12411
Pickens1205
Talladega1195
Limestone1080
Chilton1071
Greene954
Macon934
Winston910
Jackson833
Covington821
Henry822
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington736
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe462
Geneva440
Perry430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 25190

Reported Deaths: 401
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby5546124
Davidson551666
Trousdale13944
Rutherford134328
Hamilton96419
Sumner93846
Lake8350
Bledsoe6101
Williamson58911
Putnam5246
Robertson5235
Tipton4613
Wilson4498
Knox4355
Out of TN4264
Bedford2974
Montgomery2863
Rhea2170
Hardeman2020
Madison1732
Bradley1661
Macon1663
Loudon1610
Unassigned1610
McMinn14614
Fayette1362
Cheatham1350
Dickson1200
Cumberland1202
Maury1071
Sevier972
Blount933
Coffee780
Washington750
Monroe713
Wayne640
Gibson631
Sullivan602
Lauderdale591
Hickman580
Dyer570
Franklin541
Greene522
Unicoi480
Obion453
Marion441
Hamblen422
Anderson422
DeKalb380
Smith361
Hawkins342
Marshall331
Lawrence330
Haywood332
White330
Cannon320
Overton320
Henry320
Grundy311
Lincoln290
Jefferson290
Carroll281
Meigs270
Warren260
Weakley260
Perry240
Hardin222
Cocke210
Sequatchie200
Johnson190
Polk190
Jackson190
Carter191
Campbell181
Morgan170
Crockett162
Roane160
Henderson150
Humphreys151
McNairy150
Grainger130
Giles130
Stewart130
Claiborne120
Scott120
Fentress120
Chester120
Clay80
Houston80
Benton71
Moore50
Decatur50
Van Buren40
Union40
Lewis30
Pickett30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events