WAVERLY, Va. – Tornadoes tore through towns as far north as Pennsylvania, heavy snow canceled hundreds of flights in the Midwest and power outages left tens of thousands of residents from the Carolinas to New England in the dark as severe weather raked across a broad swath of the country for a third day.
The storms Wednesday claimed at least a half-dozen lives, three of them in the tiny town of Waverly, Virginia, where a 2-year-old child and two men, ages 50 and 26, were killed during the storm, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. Their bodies were found about 300 yards from their mobile home.
On Tuesday, a tornado that ripped through a recreational vehicle park in Louisiana left two people dead, and a man died of blunt-force trauma when storms hit in Mississippi.
At least five structures were damaged Wednesday in Waverly, a town of approximately 2,000, and roads leading into town had to be closed because of downed trees and debris tossed by winds gusting to 60 mph, Geller said.
In Appomattox County, Virginia, a tornado with estimated winds of up to 165 mph left an 8- to 10-mile path of destruction, injuring seven people and killing a 78-year-old man, state police said. Edward Keith Harris’ body was found outside his home in Evergreen late Wednesday, Sheriff Barry Letterman told a news conference Thursday.
At least 15 structures were destroyed and 25 injuries were reported when the storm passed through Essex County and the town of Tappahannock, about 45 miles northeast of Richmond, state police said. The injuries ranged from minor to serious, but there were no confirmed fatalities.
In Waverly, Larry D. Turner, 50, Devine J. Stringfield, 26, and 2-year-old Ivan T. Lewis died Wednesday afternoon when a twister hit Turner’s mobile home in a neighborhood sandwiched between railroad tracks and U.S. 460. Their bodies were hurled 300 yards across the highway and into a field adjacent to a cemetery, police said.
The toddler’s 30-year-old mother, whose name was not released, was also in the trailer but survived. She remained hospitalized Thursday.
The toddler’s mother was Turner’s girlfriend, and Stringfield was her brother, said neighbor Timothy Williams.
Williams, whose own trailer two doors down from Turner’s was destroyed, described Turner as “a good dude” who sometimes came to Williams’ house to hang out and watch TV. Williams said he also was a frequent guest of Turner’s.
“He loved to cook,” Williams said. “Every time I was over there, he was cooking.”
In southern Michigan, a 6-year-old girl died following a three-vehicle crash. State police say Harlyn Radley died after the crash Wednesday afternoon near Battle Creek when a car driven by the child’s mother went out of control and collided with another vehicle. A third vehicle then struck the wreckage. Police say speed and heavy, wet snow were factors.
In South Carolina, Darlington County Corner Todd Hardee said in a statement Michael Gaines Sr., 58, had stopped near his home Wednesday to remove debris from the road when a pine tree fell on him. Sheriff Wayne Byrd said the victim was being a good Samaritan when he was killed.
The line of storms moved across Pennsylvania and the New York City area Wednesday night, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that knocked down trees and caused scattered power outages. The storms spawned at least two tornadoes in Pennsylvania. One damaged dozens of homes and barns and leveled an Amish schoolhouse with 100-mph winds as it carved a path of destruction over a 5-mile stretch of rural eastern Lancaster County.
The National Weather Service also confirmed a tornado touched down near Wyalusing in Bradford County, where several buildings were reported damaged.
The Chicago Department of Aviation reported more than 1,100 flights had been canceled at the city’s two major airports by Wednesday evening.
Bill Bunting with National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center estimated 20 to 24 tornados hit from Louisiana to Florida on Tuesday.
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