Severe Storms in Southern US Kill at Least Nine People

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Deadly storms generating snow and tornadoes roll through southern states and move towards the northeastern US.

Storms producing tornadoes and heavy rains have rolled through parts of the southern United States, killing at least nine people and leaving more than one million customers without power, according to authorities.

The National Weather Service said the powerful storm had mostly left the south of the country by late Friday and was moving to the northeastern US, where it was forecast to cause heavy snow and sleet from southeastern Michigan east to New York state. Parts of central New York and southern New England may see more than 30cm (a foot) of snow by Saturday afternoon.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said at least two tornadoes sparked by the storm system ripped through the western part of his state on Friday.

The governor said on social media that at least three people were killed in the severe weather, though he did not provide any more details.

A fourth person was killed by the storm in Kentucky, a woman who died when a tree fell on the car she was in, the Fayette County coroner’s office said.

Aside from the tornadoes, Beshear said thunderstorms in Kentucky were generating winds of 129km (80 miles) per hour, which are “strong enough to blow tractor-trailers off the road”.

Beshear had declared a state of emergency before the storm and on Friday evening the mayor of Louisville, Craig Greenberg, followed suit because of the severe storms, high winds, widespread damage and danger to lives and property.

“I encourage everyone in our community to exercise extreme caution this evening, and in the coming days – do not drive through standing water, do not approach downed power lines, or do anything that would put the lives of anyone at risk,” Greenberg said in a Facebook post.

‘Powerful and historic’

The National Weather Service in Louisville called the storm on Friday “powerful and historic” with peak wind gusts between 96-128km (60-80 mph) per hour.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said on social media that three people were killed in the storm in her state, though she provided no details.

In Arkansas, a man died when he was swept into a swollen river by floodwaters after driving on a flooded street, according to the Scott County Sheriff’s Department.

In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves said on social media on Friday that overnight storms producing high winds had resulted in one person’s death, though he gave no more details.

More than 1.4 million homes and businesses were without power in states affected by the storm, according to data from PowerOutage.us.

Violent storms are frequent in the southern US in winter months, as warm, moist air comes up from the Gulf of Mexico and collides with colder air moving down from the north, meteorologists say.

Source: Al Jazeera