Damaging Storms Roar East
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By: Associated Press
Published: January 30, 2013
A vast storm system with thunderstorms, damaging winds and possible tornadoes raked a wide area of the central U.S. and South on Wednesday, and threatened to become more powerful as it roared East.
The squall line packed a punch as it moved through the Nashville metro area Wednesday morning. There were hundreds of damage reports from possible rain-wrapped tornadoes in Gallatin and Mount Juliet, said Jon Erdman, meteorologist with The Weather Channel.
One person was killed in the Nashville suburb of Bordeaux when a tree fell on a shed during the storm, authorities said.
In Mount Juliet, high winds, possibly a tornado, took the roof off a three-story office building and overturned a semi truck, injuring the driver, said John Jewell, Wilson County Emergency Management Director. The Tennessean, Nashville's newspaper, had damage to its building, he said.
Nashville Electric reported that after nearly 19,000 outages, about 8,000 customers were without power. Dozens of school districts in Tennessee and Alabama delayed or canceled classes Wednesday as a precaution.
The system was pulling warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico and colliding with a cold front moving in from the west, creating volatility. The system was expected to hit much of the eastern United States on Wednesday.
"You have a line of thunderstorms moving through very rapidly ... and within that line, you have little areas of rotations developing," said Carl Parker, severe weather specialist for The Weather Channel. "These tornadoes are going to be rain-wrapped, and you're not going to see anything until they're right on you."
Erdman said Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, D.C., and southern New England could see 60 mph winds Wednesday night.
"As bad as it is right now, it's probably going to get worse," said Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert for The Weather Channel.
Storm clouds roll over North Dallas Tuesday.
In northwest Arkansas, forecasters were checking reports of possible twisters kicked up by the strong storm system, including one report from a Little Rock suburb. There were no reports of injuries from those storms.
Police in the Arkansas community of Monticello reported one person was injured by lightning there. The injury was not life-threatening.
Thousands were left without power in Arkansas amid damage to the rooftops of homes. Entergy Arkansas Inc. reported at least 9,000 power outages in several communities around Arkansas, including in and around Little Rock.
The National Weather Service also reported that suspected straight-line winds of up to 80 mph were reported in the state late Tuesday night as the system crossed the state. Flooding was reported in low-lying areas of Jonesboro in Arkansas' northeastern corner.
Earlier this week, a large swath of the Midwest and South bathed in unseasonably balmy temperatures that reached the high 70s in some areas.
The temperature in the central Missouri college town of Columbia reached 77 degrees on Monday, a record for January, and students exchanged their winter coats for shorts and flip-flops as freezing rain gave way to spring-like conditions. Foul weather made a quick return, however, with a Tuesday downpour that flooded some streets near the University of Missouri campus. Early morning snow was expected Wednesday.
Chicago residents also have been whiplashed by recent weather extremes. Workers who suffered through subzero temperatures and brutal wind chills a week ago strolled through downtown without coats Tuesday as temperatures soared into the mid-60s.
Carol Krueger, who lives in the Chicago suburb of North Hoffman Estates, noted that just a few days ago she was struggling to drive through blowing snow. All she needed Tuesday was a light jacket, although by Thursday temperatures were barely expected to reach 20 degrees.
"It's bizarre, it's scary," Krueger said of the swiftly changing weather.
The nation has had its 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 221 days ago as of Wednesday.
The last day with multiple fatalities was June 4, when three people were killed in a mobile home in Scott County, Mo.
Wednesday's air travel situation could be extremely messy with several major hubs in the risk area for either severe weather or snow from Winter Storm Magnus: