2 killed as severe storms hit South again
Hundreds of thousands lose power just days after deadly twisters
msnbc.com news services, April 13, 2009
ATLANTA - A swath of severe weather moved across a storm-weary South on Monday, killing at least two people, downing trees and cutting power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.
The storm system that hit Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and northern Florida brought torrential rain, flooding, hail and gusty winds to states still reeling from strong storms and tornadoes last week. And the states braced for more severe weather expected later Monday.
About 250,000 homes and businesses across Georgia most in the Atlanta area were without power at midday Monday after high winds knocked trees into power lines. By late afternoon the number was down to 129,000.
In Alabama, about 158,474 homes and businesses were in the dark because of damage that occurred from near the Mississippi state line through the Birmingham area, according to Alabama Power Co. In Huntsville, another 12,000 utility customers lost power.
An 18-year-old was killed in Etowah, Tenn., on Monday when a tree fell on his family's home as he slept. A second person was killed in Atlanta after a tree fell on their car. Names of the victims were not immediately released.
Many areas that were spared from Monday's rain and hail were hit with high winds that blew over trees weakened by several days of soaking rain.
"The ground is so wet that the root system is loose, so it doesn't take a lot to blow the trees over," said Nate Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga.
Boat docks blown onto highway
High winds on the Tennessee River in northern Alabama blew the roof off covered boat slips at the Guntersville Yacht Club, causing floating docks to pull apart and blow onto U.S. 431, said Anita McBurnett, emergency management director for Marshall County.
No one was injured, but four people who live on big sailboats and yachts stored at the marina had to be rescued after their vessels blew into the river during the storm, McBurnett said.
"It's right on the heels of the tornado on Friday, so we've really got our hands full," she said.
In Florida, strong weather downed trees, temporarily closed some streets and put flood recovery and damage assessment efforts from prior storms on hold in north Florida and the Panhandle.
Officials were worried thunderstorms that produced high winds, hail and downpours would endanger emergency management crews and cause rivers to rise again.
"Most of the rivers remain at or near flood stage," state emergency management spokesman Mike Stone said.
Radar indicated a twister west of Tallahassee, but National Weather Service officials were not immediately able to confirm it was a tornado and had received no damage reports.
U.S. Highway 90 remained closed for a sixth day at the Suwannee River about 65 miles east of Tallahassee. The flooding claimed two lives in late March in the Panhandle's Okaloosa County, and a third person an elderly man was still missing after he was swept away by flood waters.
The South on Thursday and Friday saw several twisters, two of which claimed five lives.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.