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Deadly tornadoes hit Alabama, leaving path of destruction

Deadly tornadoes hit Alabama, leaving path of destruction

More than 30 million Americans across the South faced the threat of severe weather after multiple deadly tornadoes hit the region Thursday. They sent sparks and debris flying across northeast Alabama.

A large tornado hit metropolitan Atlanta’s Coweta County around midnight Friday, prompting a tornado emergency for the city of Newnan and surrounding areas. No deaths were reported. 

At least five people were killed by storms Thursday in Calhoun County, Alabama, northeast of Birmingham. There were also reports of people trapped in flattened homes.

 

Much of Alabama was under a state of emergency as a large tornado left a trail of destruction in an area 50 miles long from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham earlier Thursday. Tornado and flash flood alerts have been posted across Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. 

Powerful winds uprooted trees and sent them crashing onto rooftops. Some of the worst damage happened at the Eagle Point subdivision in Shelby County, Alabama. Torn-off roofs revealed the insides of bedrooms and drone footage showed homeowners sifting through debris. 

“It was scary,” said homeowner Carol Willis. “The noise was unbelievable.” 

Willis’s garage was damaged but her home was mostly spared. She described the frightening moments the tornado barreled through her community. 

“I was standing in this bedroom window, I looked out and it started getting dark. I said, well I better get out of this room. I had a metal garbage can. I said, well let me run to my utility room. I put the garbage can over my head, went in there, I stayed no more than two minutes. I came out and I saw all of this. I couldn’t believe it, it went so fast,” she said. 

The city of Pelham was also hit hard. Just 20 miles south of Birmingham, at least 14,000 people in the area are without power. 

Potential Severe Thunderstorm Outbreak Looms For South Thursday, Including Strong Tornadoes

Potential Severe Thunderstorm Outbreak Looms For South Thursday, Including Strong Tornadoes

At a Glance

  • An outbreak of severe thunderstorms will likely hit the South on Thursday.

  • Several tornadoes are possible in addition to damaging winds and large hail.

  • Flooding rainfall is also expected in parts of the region.

An outbreak of severe thunderstorms will likely hit the South on Thursday, including the possibility of long-track strong tornadoes, damaging winds, large hail and flash flooding. Some of the severe weather could extend as far north as the Ohio Valley.

The setup for this episode of severe weather is classic for early spring.

Namely, a low-pressure system is forecast to intensify as it quickly tracks from out of the South toward the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes Thursday into early Friday. This will help draw warm, humid air northward from the Gulf of Mexico into the South, allowing the atmosphere to become unstable enough to support a widespread threat of severe storms.

Here’s a closer look at the forecast for what areas could be hit hardest.

Severe Weather, Flooding Forecast

Wednesday-Wednesday Night

Pockets of heavy rain will continue the possibility of flash flooding in southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and coastal Alabama on Wednesday.

Current Radar, Watches and Warnings

(Watches and Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service.)

Scattered severe storms could develop by evening and overnight from northern and central parts of Texas and southern Oklahoma into portions of Arkansas and northwest Louisiana.

Some parts of Texas could see two rounds of strong to severe thunderstorms, first in the evening, then in the pre-dawn hours early Thursday morning.

Large hail and damaging wind gusts are the primary threats from any storms that turn severe, though an isolated tornado or two cannot be ruled out.

Wednesday-Wednesday Night’s Severe Thunderstorm Forecast

(Shaded on the map above is the likelihood of severe thunderstorms, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. Note that not all categories apply for the severe weather risk on a particular day.)

Thursday-Thursday Night

Thursday into Thursday night is when an outbreak of severe storms is likely to occur in the South, including some of the same areas ravaged by an outbreak of 49 tornadoes last week.

Supercell thunderstorms could pose a threat of long-track strong tornadoes as well as large hail and damaging winds, especially from northern and central Mississippi into central Alabama and a portion of western and middle Tennessee. That’s where NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center says there is a “moderate”, or a level 4 out of 5, risk of severe storms. Jackson and Tupelo, Mississippi, Birmingham and Huntsville, Alabama, and Memphis, Tennessee, are some of the cities in this threat area.

At least some severe storms are also possible in a broader area shaded red in the map below from eastern Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana to possibly as far north and east as the Ohio Valley, eastern Tennessee and northwest Georgia. Damaging winds, hail and some tornadoes are possible threats.

Localized flash flooding could also be a concern in many of the same areas at risk for severe weather.

Thursday-Thursday Night’s Severe Thunderstorm Forecast

(Shaded on the map above is the likelihood of severe thunderstorms, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. Note that not all categories apply for the severe weather risk on a particular day.)

The threat of severe weather will trend downward as this system moves eastward on Friday. However, a few strong to severe storms cannot be ruled out from southeast Virginia and the Carolinas to southern and central Georgia and southeast Alabama.

Rainfall Forecast

Some areas in the South could see 1 to 3 inches of rain through Thursday night, particularly from the central Gulf Coast into parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Localized flash flooding is possible from the central Gulf Coast to the Tennessee and Ohio valleys into Thursday night.

Heavy rain Wednesday triggered street flooding in New Orleans. Flooding was nearing homes Wednesday afternoon in Houma, Louisiana, about 45 miles southwest of New Orleans.

The National Weather Service has issued flash flood watches through Thursday for this area, including New Orleans, Biloxi, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama.

Devastating Flooding in Australia Forces 18,000 Families from Their Homes (PHOTOS)

Devastating Flooding in Australia Forces 18,000 Families from Their Homes (PHOTOS)

Flooding has forced at least 18,000 families to evacuate their homes in New South Wales, Australia, as heavy rains caused some of the worst flooding in the state in decades.

Photos show neighborhoods inundated with flooding to the height of street signs and locals rowing to safety as the water climbs.

The flooding has caused damage to homes and businesses and washed out bridges and roads. ABC News Australia reported that a couple’s rental home in Mondrook was washed away on their wedding day on Saturday. The couple was not home at the time, and are uninjured.

Emergency services received more than 8,000 calls for help since the flooding began. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Insurance Council of Australia declared an insurance catastrophe after more than 5,000 claims were lodged over the weekend due to the flooding.

(MORE: Evacuations Expand as Devastating Flooding Continues)

Dozens of communities have been officially deemed disaster areas. Click through the slideshow above to see photos of the devastation.

Winter Storms in Texas Killed at Least 57 People, Mostly by Hypothermia, State Says

Winter Storms in Texas Killed at Least 57 People, Mostly by Hypothermia, State Says

At a Glance

  • The state’s health department is tallying the number of lives lost during the February storms.

  • Twenty-five deaths happened in Harris County.

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning also caused deaths.

Two winter storms that paralyzed much of Texas last month killed at least 57 people, according to figures released by the state’s health department.

Most of the deaths were associated with hypothermia, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday in a news release. Other causes of deaths during the storms included motor vehicle accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, medical equipment failure, falls and fire.

The back-to-back winter storms in mid-February were also blamed for deaths in Oregon, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Texas was hit particularly hard when the state’s power grid collapsed because of the frigid temperatures and a huge demand for electricity. More than 4 million homes and businesses lost power at the height of the crisis.

More than 1 million customers were left without electricity for days and hundreds of thousands had no running water.

Hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning cases rose as the dire conditions dragged on.

Calling it a “disaster within a disaster,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said there were at least 300 calls regarding carbon monoxide poisoning in her county.

Harris County has confirmed at least 25 deaths because of the storm, the state figures show.

One thing that remains unclear: whether or not any deaths in Dallas County – the state’s second-most populous county – were blamed on the winter storms. Dallas County was not included in Monday’s release, but a March 1 report from the Dallas Morning News said the county’s medical examiner was investigating as many as 17 deaths that could have been caused by the winter storms.

“We’ll probably never have a really accurate number,” Dr. Jeffrey Barnard, Dallas County medical examiner, told the Morning News in the March 1 report.

The health department said the data is preliminary and subject to change as additional information is gathered and additional deaths are verified.

Winter Storm Xylia, a Potentially Historic Blizzard in the Rockies and High Plains, Hits This Weekend

Winter Storm Xylia, a Potentially Historic Blizzard in the Rockies and High Plains, Hits This Weekend

At a Glance

  • A massive winter storm will strike the Rockies and High Plains this weekend.

  • Parts of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska could pick up multiple feet of snow.

  • This storm could cripple travel, down trees and trigger power outages.

A potentially crippling, historic snowstorm will pummel parts of the Rockies and High Plains this weekend with more than two feet of snow in some areas that could snarl travel, damage trees and knock out power in parts of Colorado, Wyoming and western Nebraska.

The storm has been named Winter Storm Xylia (pronounced ZEYE-lee-uh) by The Weather Channel.

The National Weather Service in Cheyenne called this a “potentially historic event taking shape” in their Wednesday afternoon forecast discussion.

A gyre of low pressure aloft is slowly carving its way through the Southwest and will take its time before it moves out of the Rockies early next week. Slow-moving upper lows like this one are notorious Rockies and High Plains snowstorm generators.

The spiraling low will tap deep moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and pump it up the slope of the High Plains into the Front Range of the Rockies, where air just cold enough to support snow will be in place.

This storm is also forecast to produce flooding rain and several days’ worth of severe thunderstorms in other parts of the Plains and Mississippi Valley.

Current Alerts

Blizzard warnings have been issued for southeastern Wyoming to the Nebraska panhandle, including Laramie, Wyoming. Travel in this area will be impossible and dangerous with white out conditions and wind gusts up to 60 mph.

Winter storm warnings have been issued for portions of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska and South Dakota, including Cheyenne, Wyoming; Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado. Travel could be impossible in those areas.

Advisories have been issued in areas where snowfall could make travel tricky.

Winter Weather Alerts

(From the National Weather Service.)

The Timeline

Xylia is currently bringing snow and rain to portions of the Four Corners region. Precipitation will expand northward Saturday.

Current Radar

This will be a slow-moving system, meaning for many, once it starts, it will take a while to pass.

Here’s when snow may reach your area:

Snow and Wind Gust Forecast

Winter Storm Xylia’s heaviest snow will shift into gear late Saturday through Sunday before gradually tapering off Sunday night into early Monday.

Winds may gust up to 60 mph Saturday night into Sunday. These winds will lead to low visibilities, blowing and drifting snow, and dangerous driving conditions, especially for high-profile vehicles. Power outages are possible.

East to northeast winds will intensify Saturday and persist into Sunday, which could lead to blizzard conditions in open country.

This is when the storm’s most serious and dangerous impacts are expected.

Saturday’s Forecast

Another wintry system is expected in the West early next week, and it may limit the dry weather time in the Rockies.

How Much Snow and Potential Impacts

There is relatively high confidence that the Interstate 25 corridor from southeast Wyoming into northern Colorado and adjacent foothills will pick up 1 to 2 feet of snow.

This includes Colorado’s Front Range Urban Corridor of Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder and Wyoming’s capital city, Cheyenne.

This one-foot-plus snow potential also extends into at least the western Nebraska Panhandle, as well as the Black Hills of western South Dakota.

Peak snow totals in the foothills and mountains west of Cheyenne and Denver could reach 4 feet.

Snow may fall at the rate of several inches per hour at times Saturday and Sunday and could be accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Snow and Rain Forecast

This is a dangerous storm ahead with potentially life-threatening impacts.

Roads – including stretches of Interstates 25, 70, 76 and 80 – in the High Plains and Front Range are likely to become impassable and may be closed this weekend.

You should avoid all travel in eastern Wyoming, western Nebraska and northeast Colorado from the foothills eastward from late Friday night through Sunday. If not, you run the risk of being stranded. Some road closures may linger into at least Monday, given the prolific snow totals forecast.

The combination of wet, heavy snow and strong winds may damage trees and trigger power outages. The weight of the snow may also lead to roof collapses in some areas.

The storm also poses a danger to livestock left out in the open.

Power outages are expected in the purple area below, and are possible from Colorado to western South Dakota.

Historic Snowstorm?

Spring snowstorms are the norm in the High Plains and Front Range of the Rockies each year.

In Cheyenne, Denver and other parts of the High Plains, March is the snowiest month of the year.

But this may not be just another spring snowstorm.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, Xylia could be its heaviest snowstorm on record. The two-day and three-day snowstorm of record was from November 1979, when just over 25 inches of snow pummeled the city just before Thanksgiving.

Xylia could also be the heaviest snowstorm in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, since a mid-April 1927 storm dumped 25.8 inches of snow in three days in the western Nebraska town.

In Denver, the National Weather Service tweeted Wednesday that Xylia had a “low to medium potential” to approach the March 2003 historical snowstorm.

That March 17-19, 2003, snowstorm dumped 31.8 inches of snow on the Mile High City, its second heaviest snowstorm dating to 1881, according to the NWS.

According to Storm Data, this heavy, wet snow lead to roof collapses to homes and businesses. At least 258 structures were damaged in Denver.

The weight of the snow tore a gash into the tent roof of Denver International Airport, forcing an evacuation of part of the terminal.

The foothills and mountains west of Denver were buried by 50 to 87 inches of snow. Avalanches closed many foothills and mountain roads, including Interstate 70 in both directions for some time, stranding travelers. Thousands of residents in the foothills of Jefferson County, Colorado were trapped in their homes by snow-choked roads.

Up to 135,000 customers lost power during the storm, some for several days.

The 2003 storm was the costliest snowstorm on record in Colorado, with an estimated $93 million damage.

Check back with us at weather.com for updates to this forecast.

Winter Storm Xylia, a potentially historic blizzard in the Rocky Mountains and High Plains

Winter Storm Xylia, a potentially historic blizzard in the Rocky Mountains and High Plains

At a Glance

  • A massive winter storm will strike the Rockies and High Plains this weekend.

  • Parts of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska could pick up multiple feet of snow.

  • This storm could cripple travel, down trees and trigger power outages.

A potentially crippling, historic snowstorm will pummel parts of the Rockies and High Plains this weekend with more than two feet of snow in some areas that could snarl travel, damage trees and knock out power in parts of Colorado, Wyoming and western Nebraska.

The storm has been named Winter Storm Xylia (pronounced ZEYE-lee-uh) by The Weather Channel.

A gyre of low pressure aloft will carve its way into the Southwest and take its time before it moves out early next week. Slow-moving upper lows like this one are notorious Rockies and High Plains snowstorm generators.

The spiraling low will tap deep moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and pump it up the slope of the High Plains into the Front Range of the Rockies, where air just cold enough to support snow will be in place.

This storm is also forecast to produce flooding rain and several days’ worth of severe thunderstorms in other parts of the Plains and Mississippi Valley.

Current Alerts

Winter storm warnings have been issued for portions of Colorado and Wyoming, including Cheyenne, Wyoming; Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado. Travel could be impossible in those area.

Winter storm watches have also been issued for parts of Wyoming, the Nebraska Panhandle, southwestern South Dakota, northern Utah, and Colorado.

The National Weather Service in Cheyenne, Wyoming, called this a “potentially historic event taking shape” in their Wednesday afternoon forecast discussion and mentioned a blizzard warning is likely in their Friday morning discussion.

Winter Weather Alerts

(From the National Weather Service.)

The Timeline

Xylia is currently bringing snow and rain to prtions of the Southwest. Precipitation will expand northward into the weekend.

Current Radar

Snow showers will increase in the Four Corners into Friday night.

This will be a slow-moving system, meaning for many, once it starts, it will take a while to pass.

Some areas of light snow may spread into the Front Range and High Plains of southeast Wyoming and northern Colorado by Friday afternoon.

Here’s when snow may reach your area:

Snow and Wind Gust Forecast

Winter Storm Xylia’s heaviest snow will shift into gear Saturday through Sunday before gradually tapering off Sunday night into early Monday.

This is when the storm’s most serious and dangerous impacts are expected.

Saturday’s Forecast

How Much Snow and Potential Impacts

There is relatively high confidence that the Interstate 25 corridor from southeast Wyoming into northern Colorado and adjacent foothills will pick up 1 to 2 feet of snow.

This includes Colorado’s Front Range Urban Corridor of Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder and Wyoming’s capital city, Cheyenne.

This one-foot-plus snow potential also extends into at least the western Nebraska Panhandle, as well as the Black Hills of western South Dakota.

Peak snow totals in the foothills and mountains west of Cheyenne and Denver could reach 3 feet.

Snow may fall at the rate of several inches per hour at times Saturday and Sunday and could be accompanied by thunder and lightning.

East to northeast winds will intensify Saturday and persist into Sunday, which could lead to blizzard conditions in open country.

Snow and Rain Forecast

This is a dangerous storm ahead with potentially life-threatening impacts.

Roads – including stretches of Interstates 25, 70, 76 and 80 – in the High Plains and Front Range are likely to become impassable and may be closed this weekend.

You should avoid all travel in eastern Wyoming, western Nebraska and northeast Colorado from the foothills eastward from late Friday night through Sunday. If not, you run the risk of being stranded. Some road closures may linger into at least Monday, given the prolific snow totals forecast.

The combination of wet, heavy snow and strong winds may damage trees and trigger power outages. The weight of the snow may also lead to roof collapses in some areas.

The storm also poses a danger to livestock left out in the open.

Historic Snowstorm?

Spring snowstorms are the norm in the High Plains and Front Range of the Rockies each year.

In Cheyenne, Denver and other parts of the High Plains, March is the snowiest month of the year.

But this may not be just another spring snowstorm.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, Xylia could be its heaviest snowstorm on record. The two-day and three-day snowstorm of record was from November 1979, when just over 25 inches of snow pummeled the city just before Thanksgiving.

Xylia could also be the heaviest snowstorm in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, since a mid-April 1927 storm dumped 25.8 inches of snow in three days in the western Nebraska town.

In Denver, the National Weather Service tweeted Wednesday that Xylia had a “low to medium potential” to approach the March 2003 historical snowstorm.

That March 17-19, 2003, snowstorm dumped 31.8 inches of snow on the Mile High City, its second heaviest snowstorm dating to 1881, according to the NWS.

According to Storm Data, this heavy, wet snow lead to roof collapses to homes and businesses. At least 258 structures were damaged in Denver.

The weight of the snow tore a gash into the tent roof of Denver International Airport, forcing an evacuation of part of the terminal.

The foothills and mountains west of Denver were buried by 50 to 87 inches of snow. Avalanches closed many foothills and mountain roads, including Interstate 70 in both directions for some time, stranding travelers. Thousands of residents in the foothills of Jefferson County, Colorado were trapped in their homes by snow-choked roads.

Up to 135,000 customers lost power during the storm, some for several days.

The 2003 storm was the costliest snowstorm on record in Colorado, with an estimated $93 million damage.

Check back with us at weather.com for updates to this forecast.

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