Strong storms tore through the Gulf Coast states on Tuesday, with several tornadoes in Mississippi and Louisiana killing at least three people, injuring dozens, and destroying scores of buildings.
The violent weather system, which also hit Alabama and Florida and is expected to reach Georgia and the Carolinas later Wednesday, was one of the strongest the region has seen in years. In Sugar Hill, a trailer park in the southern Louisiana community of Convent, two people have been confirmed to have died with an additional two or three missing and dozens more taken to a local hospital. Around 140 of the 160 mobile homes in the park were destroyed by the storms.
“This is some of the worst damage that I've seen in my 36 years with the state police,” Louisiana State Police superintendent Colonel Michael Edmonson told Reuters.
The sheriff of St. James Parish, where the mobile home park is located, said that despite the severity of the weather, authorities were continuing to search the park for survivors.
“We never had anything like this; we never had this many people injured in one event, and so much destruction in one event,” Sheriff Willy Martin told WVUE news, according to the Associated Press. “We won't stop searching until we're satisfied we've searched every pile.”
The governors of Louisiana and Mississippi declared a state of emergency in the areas like St. James that experienced the heaviest weather, and thousands of residents throughout the area lost power. Government offices and schools in those two states were closed early, and schools in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida cancelled their Wednesday classes.
The National Weather Service said that a tornado had hit a New Orleans airport and another was reported in Pensacola, Fla., accompanied by high winds and property damage.
Following the Tuesday storms, flash flood watches and wind advisories were issued throughout Georgia and Alabama where 1 to 2 inches of rain were predicted there. The Carolinas could also be at risk of flooding, and the storms there are expected to bring wind, hail, and tornadoes.
The National Weather Service reports:
Strong to severe thunderstorms capable of damaging winds and tornadoes are forecast from the Mid-Atlantic states southward through the Carolinas and into Florida today. The highest threat for severe weather will be from central North Carolina northeastward into far southeast Virginia.
Preparedness actions...Review your severe weather safety procedures for the possibility of dangerous weather today. Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, weather.gov, or other media for watches and warnings. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form during the next several hours. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, move to a place of safety, ideally in a basement or interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building.
Material from the Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.