Deadly storm system brings more flooding, tornado concerns to eastern US

Most of the eastern U.S. faced threats of severe weather Thursday as a deadly storm system that inflicted immense damage across the Gulf Coast headed north, bringing heavy rain, strong winds and possible tornadoes to the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes regions. Deadly storm system brings more flooding,

Tornado advisories were active across a large swath of the Florida Peninsula and southern Georgia while millions of people from Indiana to Pennsylvania were under flash flood warnings, according to the National Weather Service. Deadly storm system brings more flooding,

Forecasts delayed the first round of the prestigious Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia, as meteorologists and tournament officials warned of thunderstorms and strong wind gusts. Farther north, the weather prediction center said flash flooding may occur in several metro areas including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Mihaela Girbacica, of Omaha, Nebraska, braces against the strong wind at Casino Beach as a storm approaches the Pensacola area on April 10, 2024.
Mihaela Girbacica, of Omaha, Nebraska, braces against the strong wind at Casino Beach as a storm approaches the Pensacola area on April 10, 2024.

More than 155,000 utility customers were without power from Louisiana to North Carolina, according to a USA TODAY database. Airports spanning much of the eastern U.S. including those in states such as Florida, New York and Massachusetts were reporting significant delays. The most travel holdups occurred in Orlando, where over 140 flights were delayed and a dozen were canceled, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.

Tornadoes and damaging winds are among forecasters’ top concerns for the day after at least three twisters were confirmed in southern Louisiana on Wednesday. Gulf Coast residents and authorities alike were still assessing the damage after a series of powerful storms destroyed homes, uprooted trees and knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

Meteorologists anticipate heavy rain and high winds to continue lashing the Great Lakes and Northeast regions Friday and Saturday, the weather service said.

Tornadoes, flooding cause widespread damage across Gulf Coast

The system unleashed a barrage of severe weather conditions across the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, leading to mass power outages, travel disruptions, widespread damage and flooding in New Orleans.

Ten inches of rainfall was recorded in southeastern Texas and Louisiana, the weather service said. In Mississippi, more than 8 inches fell in the central city of Europa. Parts of Georgia, Florida and Alabama had 3-5 inches of rainfall.

In Pensacola, Florida, strong winds uprooted a massive tree and toppled it onto Robert Havens’ mobile home. Just before the tree crushed the center of the trailer, Havens was able to lead his roommate, Robert Johnson, into the bathroom where they both sheltered.

“I heard like a ‘snap’ or ‘crack’ or something and I jumped up, and I walked over and I grabbed him by the arm and I said, ‘Get back to here!’ So, we ran straight back to the bathroom … and right when we got in there, that’s when the tree fell,” Havens told the Pensacola News Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. “We just thought the whole thing is going to fall in on us, but thank God it didn’t.”

Two confirmed tornadoes ripped through Slidell, a town 30 miles northeast of New Orleans, and the southwestern city of Lake Charles, where the twister had top wind speeds of 115 mph. Another tornado was confirmed in Saint Francisville, a town about 31 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, according to the weather service survey crews. Damage in Saint Francisville and Slidell were consistent with at least an EF-1 tornado, which can fuel winds of 86-110 mph, the weather service said.

One person died in in Mississippi because of the storms, according to state’s emergency management agency. The 64-year-old woman’s oxygen machine stopped working after losing power in Scott County, reported.

‘Worst-case scenario’: Tornado in Slidell

A tornado hit the town of Slidell on Wednesday afternoon, injuring several people and damaging homes and property.

Slidell police officer Rodney West, a military veteran, said the aftermath of the apparent tornado reminded him of what he saw in Iraq, reported. “Looks like Baghdad in ‘04,” West said in a social media post.

“Buildings with the windows busted out, cars on their side, other vehicles wrecked, power lines down. Worst-case scenario that you could imagine,” he said.

A tornado warning, then ‘everything was shaking’

Monica Hernandez Melancon and her husband got a tornado warning on their phones around 6:30 a.m., just as the rain and wind picked up in Sunset, Louisiana, about 70 miles west of Baton Rouge. Melancon, 60, gathered their two Yorkies – Ceci and Lily – as their trailer began to tremble. Curled up in a corner, she began to pray.

“It was so scary,” she told USA TODAY. “You can hardly see anything because the rain was so dense and everything was shaking.”

After about 20 minutes, she and her husband emerged from the trailer to find several trees knocked down across their 40-acre property, where they have hundreds of chickens, pigs, hens and lambs. Their farm was not damaged and none of the animals were hurt. Melancon said in her decades living in different parts of Louisiana, she’s never experienced such a ferocious storm.

Several school districts in Louisiana and Mississippi held classes virtually or canceled sessions altogether. The Louisiana Division of Administration shuttered state office buildings on Wednesday, and officials asked “all drivers to limit driving on the roads between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” according to a statement from Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry.

Airline delays and cancellations were reported Wednesday afternoon across the region, including at Dallas-Fort Worth and New Orleans airports.

Meteorologists anticipated that as the day continued, damaging hail, wind and possible tornadoes would slam Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, according to the National Weather Service. Thunderstorms could dump around 2 to 4 inches of rain over much of the same area and up through southwestern Georgia.

Storm heads to Midwest, East Coast

The low-pressure system battering the South is forecast to intensify, expand and track toward the Northeast throughout the rest of the week, and moderate to heavy rainfall will engulf much of the eastern U.S., including the mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, Midwest and Ohio Valley regions by Thursday.

The Carolinas, northern Florida and the mid-Atlantic region will see the greatest threat of damaging wind gusts, the weather service said. Heavy rain and potential scattered flash flooding may occur from the southern Appalachians to the northern mid-Atlantic.

Meteorologists say thunderstorms should exit the Southeast by Friday morning as a potent cold front is forecast to sweep across the country from the West Coast.

Storm damages homes in Texas, Arkansas

The severe weather began on Monday and led Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to deploy emergency response resources to badly impacted areas of the state. On Tuesday, the governor said he had deployed additional resources throughout the state.

Hail the size of quarters and ping pong balls was reported in eastern Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Powerful wind gusts reportedly toppled power lines and uprooted trees. In Pulaski County, Arkansas, 80-90 mph wind gusts damaged several homes. In Houston, a house and a barn had their roofs blown off by strong winds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *