Learned, Miss. — Strong storms again roared across the South on Thursday, killing at least two people while leaving more than 100,000 people without power across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
National Weather Service forecasters said they believe multiple tornadoes hit southwest and central Mississippi, although they won’t be sure until damage is surveyed. Damage from the storm system was reported in at least 24 of Mississippi’s 82 counties.
Heavy winds also were reported in Louisiana earlier in the day and in central Alabama as the system quickly pushed eastward toward Georgia.
On the back side of the system, there were also reports late Thursday of high winds in southern Oklahoma.
Kenderick Magee, 24, was killed when the 18-wheeler he was driving in the storm hit a tree near the rural town of Gillsburg in southwest Mississippi, Amite County Coroner Campbell Sharp told CBS News.
Two minor injuries were reported in Harvey, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, when a power pole fell on two vehicles.
Alabama authorities said a woman was killed Thursday night after strong storms knocked a tree onto her mobile home in St Clair County. Emergency crews found 42-year-old Monica Clements dead inside the home. Clements’ 10-year-old son suffered minor injuries.
Damage was heavy in the Mississippi hamlet of Learned, about 20 miles southwest of Jackson. Large oaks were uprooted from saturated ground, landing on at least a dozen houses.
To the northeast, Scott County Emergency Management Director Mike Marlow said reports indicated a number of homes were damaged near Morton and the roof blew off a gas station near Lena. In Philadelphia, Mississippi, a wall collapsed at a medical clinic and the storm knocked down traffic signals and canopies and pushed trees onto houses, the Neshoba Democrat reported.
Schools and colleges sent students home early across much of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In Jackson, state Auditor Shad White said his staff huddled in a stairway in a high-rise state office building while tornado sirens wailed, winds howled and rain came down. Spokeswoman Cathy Hayden said employees at Hinds Community College in Raymond hid in an underground bookstore storage room.
The same system produced tornadoes and hail earlier in North Texas, the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas.
Seven tornadoes were reported across the Plains from the northeastern Texas Panhandle to southeastern Kansas. Strong winds hit elsewhere Wednesday evening, toppling utility poles and trees and downing power lines in parts of North Texas.
No significant structural damage was reported, but heavy rainfall caused flash flooding that prompted the shutdown of Interstate 30 in central Arkansas and the closure of several schools around Little Rock.
The National Weather Service received numerous reports of hail pelting the storm-struck areas. Egg-size hail was reported about 60 miles northwest of Fort Worth.
The threat came days after more than 40 tornadoes from East Texas to Georgia left at least nine dead. That outbreak damaged more than 250 homes, businesses and public buildings across Mississippi.