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Massive storm system in South tosses cars, leaves one fatality in Georgia

A storm system spawned tornadoes, closed I-75 in northern Georgia, and killed two people, one in Georgia and one in Tennessee.

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In recent days, people in the South and Midwest had enjoyed unseasonably balmy temperatures in the 60s and 70s. A system pulling warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico was colliding with a cold front moving in from the west, creating volatility.

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One person was reported injured by lightning in Arkansas during the storm's eastward trek. Two people suffered minor injuries when a mobile home was blown off its foundation in Kentucky. Only one minor injury was reported in Mississippi, where officials praised residents for heeding warnings and being prepared.

In Tennessee, officials confirmed that a tornado with peak wind speeds of 115 mph touched down in Mount Juliet. No serious injuries were reported there, though the path of damage was about 150 yards wide, including homes, a warehouse and an automotive business.

At a shopping center in Mount Juliet, large sheets of metal littered the parking lot, light poles were knocked down and bits of fiberglass insulation were stuck in the trees.

One wall of a Dollar General convenience store collapsed, and the roof was torn off. Mark Fulks Jr. runs Mark's Automotive with his father in a building attached to the Dollar General. The garage door was blown off his shop and sitting on one of the cars inside, and Fulks said several of the cars they were working on had their windshields blown out.

A nearby office building and a distribution center for The Tennessean newspaper also had severe damage. Rick Martin, who bags the newspapers and helps his wife deliver them, was shocked when he saw what was left of the distribution center.

The metal frame of the building still stood, but its cinderblock walls had crumbled, and papers and plastic bags littered the trees.

"We feel real lucky," he said on Wednesday morning as looked at the damage. "I would have hated to be in here when this happened."

The deaths reported Wednesday ended the nation's longest break between tornado fatalities since detailed tornado records began being kept in 1950, according to the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center. The last one was June 24, when a person was killed in a home in Highlands County, Fla. That was 220 days ago as of Tuesday.

The last day with multiple fatalities was June 4, when three people were killed in a mobile home in Scott County, Mo.

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Associated Press writers Kristin M. Hall in Mount Juliet, Tenn., and Phillip Lucas in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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