Powerful storms that killed at least two people continued to move across the South on Sunday after spawning suspected tornadoes that left several people injured and multiple homes and businesses damaged or without power.
National Weather Service meteorologist John Moore said a possible twister touched down Saturday in the Vicksburg, Mississippi, area. No injuries have been reported, but officials said several businesses and vehicles were damaged. Trees were down throughout the hilly city on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi.
Heavy rains and storms continued to rake the Magnolia State into the night, moving into Alabama. Multiple people were injured and several homes were damaged in Hamilton, Mississippi, said Monroe County Coroner Alan Gurley. A tornado was reported in the area 140 miles (225 kilometers) southwest of Memphis, Tennessee, at the time. At least one mobile home was destroyed, throwing a man from the mobile home. No fatalities were reported.
The roof of a hotel in New Albany, Mississippi, was damaged, although the cause was unclear. Mississippi State University’s 21,000 students huddled in basements and hallways as a tornado came near the school’s campus in Starkville. University spokesman Sid Salter said some debris, possibly carried by the tornado, was found on campus, but no injuries were reported and no buildings were damaged. Trees were down and at least some minor structural damage was reported in residential areas east of the campus.
Suspected tornadoes also were reported overnight in various parts of Alabama, including Highland Lakes, Greystone and American Village in Shelby County and lake Purdy at Grants in Jefferson County. Trees were reported down in each location but there were no immediate reports of damage, injuries or fatalities.
In East Texas, the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office said an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old died when strong winds toppled a tree onto the back of their family’s car in Lufkin while it was in motion. Capt. Alton Lenderman said the parents, who were in the front seats, were not injured.
The large storm system also knocked out power to thousands and caused some flash flooding. The weather service said the system is expected to shift to the Ohio Valley and the Southeast on Sunday. More than 140,000 customers remained without power in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas late Saturday.
Robertson County Sheriff Gerald Yezak told The Associated Press a tornado hit the small Central Texas city of Franklin, overturning mobile homes and damaging other residences. Franklin is located about 125 miles (200 kilometers) south of Dallas.
The weather service said preliminary information showed an EF-3 tornado touched down with winds of 140 mph (225.3 kph). Crews will continue to survey the damage over the next few days.
Two people were hospitalized for injuries not thought to be life-threatening, while others were treated at the scene for minor injuries, Yezak said. Some people had to be extricated from their homes.
Meteorologist Monique Sellers said they’ve received reports of downed trees, as well as damage to buildings and a transmission tower.
Winds of up to 60 mph (96.56 kph) were reported in Cherokee County, Texas, damaging two homes in Alto but not injuring anyone. Alto is situated about 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of Houston.