Deadly storms add to drought, flood, and fires plaguing the South

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The National Weather Service confirms at least 13 twisters damaged homes, splintered barns and toppled trees in parts of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, killing five people in two states.

At least a dozen more people were injured early Wednesday, adding to a seemingly biblical onslaught of drought, flood, and fire plaguing the South.

The storms tore through just as firefighters began to get control of wildfires that killed seven and damaged or wiped out more than 700 homes and businesses around the resort town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

In Alabama, the weather system dumped more than 2 inches of rain in areas parched by months of choking drought.

Forecasters confirm at least five tornadoes hit Alabama, three in southern Tennessee, one in Louisiana and at least four in Mississippi.

Georgia

The National Weather Service says a tornado touched down near Atlanta as heavy storms continued to sweep across large parts of the South.

Meteorologist Keith Stellman says a possible tornado was spotted on radar about seven miles north of Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon. There were no immediate reports of any injuries or damages. He said there were some reports of downed power lines, trees and some roof damage west of Atlanta.

Forecasters said the storm system then moved to the northeast and a tornado warning was issued for a time in and around Atlanta, including Fulton and Dekalb counties.

Atlanta fire Sgt. Cortez Stafford says a tree also caught fire from power lines being downed.

A tornado watch also was issued for more than 50 counties in Georgia, including Cobb and Gwinnett near Atlanta. It was to expire at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries.

Flights were temporarily delayed at the world’s busiest airport shortly after a report of a possible tornado near Atlanta as heavy storms rolled across the South.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spokesman Reese McCranie says flights were delayed for about 15 minutes Wednesday before being allowed to depart.

Louisiana

The National Weather Weather Service has confirmed a tornado briefly touched down in Westwego, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans.

Meteorologist Mike Efferson says the twister hit Wednesday morning and was rated an EF-0, with winds of up to 85 miles per hour. He says it was about 30 yards wide and tracked for less than a mile on the ground.

“There was minor damage to roofs, trees and power lines. It just briefly touched down and quickly went back up,” he said.

No injuries were reported.

Mississippi

The National Weather Service has confirmed at least four tornadoes struck Mississippi during Tuesday’s severe weather outbreak, and could confirm more.

The longest tornado stretched for 20.5 miles through Rankin and Scott counties, with top winds of 100 mph and a path 300 yards wide. It destroyed one home and damaged at least 12 others.

Another twister stretched 9 miles through Clay and Monroe counties with top winds of 110 mph and a path 200 yards wide. It damaged structures, flipped a UPS truck and downed part of a Tennessee Valley Authority high-voltage transmission line.

An Oktibbeha County tornado stretched 3.5 miles with top winds of 110 mph.

Finally, a Lowndes County tornado stretched 2.9 miles with 105 mph winds.

All four storms were rated EF-1 on the enhanced Fujita scale.

Statewide, 12 counties reported structure damage to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. No injuries were reported.

Tennessee

Officials say tornadoes up to 140 mph touched down in East Tennessee.

The National Weather Service says an EF-3 tornado touched down overnight in Polk County.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says the National Weather Service confirmed two other touchdowns: an EF-1 in Coffee County with winds around 105 miles per hour, and an EF-2 with winds from 111 to 135 miles per hour in McMinn County.

The Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency says a husband and a wife died in Ocoee in Polk County. Fifty buildings, including a U.S. Post Office and local fire station, were severely damaged or destroyed. Multiple other people went to the hospital.

McMinn County reported at least 20 injuries with more than 30 structures damaged or destroyed.

Officials say nine Tennessee counties were hit by severe weather from Tuesday overnight into Wednesday.

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