Severe storms put a damper on holiday preparations across parts of the South and Midwest on Wednesday. Travel was treacherous as the storms produced heavy rains, flooding and tornadoes. Power is being restored in many areas.
Tornadoes touched down in Mississippi and Indiana. Across the region at least six people have been confirmed dead.
Three people were killed in Mississippi. In Holly Springs, a 7-year-old boy was killed when the car he was riding in was picked up by winds and dropped. Two people in Benton County also died, and more people are missing. Rescue crews are going house to house in affected areas, checking on residents.
NPR’s Debbie Elliott tells our Newscast unit that portions of Interstate 55 were closed due to tornado warnings, and there are reports of an overturned tractor-trailer in north Mississippi.
Brandi Holland, a convenience store clerk in Tupelo, which is about 120 miles east of the tornado, told The Associated Press that people were reminded of a twister that hit in April that destroyed more than 2,000 home and businesses.
Two people were killed in storms that passed through Tennessee. Blake Farmer of member station WPLN in Nashville reports that in rural Perry County, where the deaths occurred, several homes “were hit hard.”
He tells our Newscast unit that “once daylight comes, the National Weather Service will determine whether tornadoes or straight-line winds are to blame.”
In Arkansas, officials say an 18-year-old woman was killed and a toddler injured when an uprooted tree fell on a home. Rescue crews pulled the toddler from the home.
Forecasters say the storms are moving east.
Mississippi Highway Patrol Captain Johnny Poulos warns drivers to expect more stormy days this week. “If you are going to be on the road, have plans in place to detour,” he says.
This time a year a lot of people are usually worried about snow and ice so it may seem a bit unusual to hear about tornadoes just before Christmas.
“It’s unusual but certainty not unprecedented to see severe weather similar to this in December,” says Meteorologist Greg Carbin at the national Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.
In fact, a year ago five people were killed in tornadoes in southeast Mississippi.