January 31, 2013 in Nation/World

Powerful storm system rips through Southeast

Kate Brumback Associated Press
 

ADAIRSVILLE, Ga. – A massive storm system raked the Southeast on Wednesday, spawning tornadoes and dangerous winds that overturned cars on a major Georgia interstate and demolished homes and businesses, killing at least two people.

In northwest Georgia, the storm system tossed vehicles on Interstate 75 onto their roofs. The highway was closed for a time, and another main thoroughfare remained closed until crews could safely remove downed trees and power lines from the road.

WSB-TV in Atlanta aired footage showing an enormous funnel cloud bearing down on Adairsville, about 60 miles northwest of Atlanta, as the storm ripped through the city’s downtown area. The system flattened homes and wiped out parts of a large manufacturing plant. Pieces of insulation hung from trees and power poles, while the local bank was missing a big chunk of its roof.

One person was killed and nine were hospitalized for minor injuries, state emergency management officials said.

One other death was reported in Tennessee after an uprooted tree fell onto a storage shed where a man had taken shelter.

Powerful winds ripped through the entire region, with gusts strong enough to topple tractor-trailers in several places.

In recent days, people in the South and Midwest had enjoyed unseasonably balmy temperatures in the 60s and 70s. A system pulling warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico was colliding with a cold front moving in from the west, creating volatility.

In Tennessee, officials confirmed that a tornado with peak wind speeds of 115 mph touched down in Mount Juliet. No serious injuries were reported there. At least six other tornadoes were reported statewide.

The deaths reported Wednesday ended the nation’s longest break between tornado fatalities since detailed tornado records began being kept in 1950, according to the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center. The last one was June 24, when a person was killed in a home in Highlands County, Fla. That was 220 days ago as of Tuesday.

The last day with multiple fatalities was June 4, when three people were killed in a mobile home in Scott County, Mo.

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