Storms threaten the South as a week of deadly weather punches through the U.S.

COLUMBIA, Tenn. — Forecasters warned a wave of dangerous storms in the U.S. could wash over parts of the South early Thursday, a day after severe weather with damaging tornadoes and large hail killed at least three people in the region.

The storms continue a streak of torrential rains and tornadoes this week from the Plains to the Midwest and, now, the Southeast. At least four people have died since Monday. The weather comes on the heels of a stormy April in which the U.S. had 300 confirmed tornadoes, the second-most on record for the month and the most since 2011.

The National Weather Service issued tornado watches Thursday for parts of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. An enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms with very large hail was forecast for parts of eastern Texas.

Storms left more than a quarter-million customers without power Thursday in North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri, according to

A storm Wednesday in northeastern Tennessee damaged homes, injured people, toppled power lines and trees, and killed a 22-year-old man in a car in Claiborne County, north of Knoxville, officials said. A second person was killed south of Nashville in Columbia, where the weather service said a tornado had likely touched down.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary ground stop at Nashville's main airport, and the weather service issued a tornado emergency, its highest alert level, for nearby areas.

Thunderstorms with torrential rains led to a flash flood emergency and water rescues northeast of Nashville.

In North Carolina, a state of emergency was declared Wednesday night for Gaston County, west of Charlotte, after a storm that toppled power lines and trees, including one that landed on a car. One person in the car was killed, and another was taken to a hospital, officials said.

The storms followed heavy rain, strong winds, hail and tornadoes in parts of the central U.S. on Monday, including a twister that ripped through an Oklahoma town and killed one person. On Tuesday, the Midwest took the brunt of the bad weather. Tornadoes touched down in parts of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, according to the weather service.

Michigan's Kalamazoo area was hard hit as a FedEx facility was ripped apart, with downed power lines trapping about 50 people.

Tornadoes were also confirmed near Pittsburgh, in central Arkansas and in northern West Virginia. The West Virginia twister was at least the 11th tornado this year in the state, which sees two tornadoes in an average year.

Both the Plains and Midwest have been hammered by tornadoes this spring.


Cappelletti and White reported from Detroit. Associated Press journalists around the country contributed to this report, including Rio Yamat, Heather Hollingsworth, Colleen Slevin, Jim Salter, Kathy McCormack, Sarah Brumfield, Beatrice Dupuy, Alexa St. John, Adrian Sainz, John Raby and Lisa Baumann.


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