Karla Buneta walks through her storm-damaged kitchen Thursday in Hazelwood,… (Laurie Skrivan / Associated…)
A fierce storm hugged the eastern portion of the nation in an icy, wet grip Thursday, spawning strong winds, tornadoes and the possibility of floods through the region where just days ago spring was beginning to bloom.
At least one death related to tornado activity was reported in Mississippi, bringing the toll from this week’s freakishly winter-like weather to two. Tornado watches remained in effect in Mississippi and next door in Alabama while Missouri had declared a state of emergency because of drenching rains.
Meanwhile, snow, which many people had considered a distant memory, returned with a vengeance, falling in a band through the Upper Midwest and into upstate New York and the tip of New England, according to the National Weather Service.
For the South, April is at the beginning of tornado season, usually forming when winter is waning and spring is budding. There are several theories about tornado formulation, but the empirical findings point to spring and early summer as the most common periods, with the danger moving north as the weeks progress.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reported the first death and numerous injuries in Kemper County near the Alabama border. There were also several damaged structures, the state agency said in an email.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are affected by this severe weather,” Gov. Phil Bryant stated. The state has sent resources to help with the weather-related problems.
Power lines were downed, buildings damaged and more injuries were reported in the adjacent county of Noxubee, especially in the town of Shuqualak, officials said.
Tornado watches were posted for parts of western Alabama and many school districts sent students home as a precaution.
Earlier, there had been reports of a tornado sighting in north-central Arkansas.
Tornadoes were also reported in Missouri and parts of Illinois. The strong storm that swept through Wednesday damaged homes in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency shortly after the storm swept through, bringing hail, strong winds and heavy rains.
In the Upper Midwest, thousands of customers lost electricity because of snow and ice bringing down power lines, and flooding issues worried parts of the Midwest where rain hit the region.
The other death was reported in Nebraska on Tuesday. A woman died while trying to walk through a blizzard from her disabled car.
Snow and ice closed down roads in South Dakota, parts of which were buried in as much as 30 inches.
In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton said the weather was taxing the resources of local and county governments, and he issued an executive order activating the National Guard.
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