TUPELO, Miss. – At least three tornadoes flattened homes and businesses, flipped trucks over on highways and bent telephone poles into 45-degree angles as they barreled through the South on Monday, killing at least one woman in Mississippi and unleashing severe thunderstorms, damaging hail and flash floods.
Officials also reported six deaths in Alabama from a tornado. State emergency officials could not immediately confirm those deaths. Thousands of customers were without power in Alabama and Kentucky, where severe storms caused widespread damages.
Monday’s storm system was so huge it was visible from space, photographed by weather satellites that showed tumultuous clouds arcing across much of the South. The National Weather Service posted tornado watches and warnings around Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia that were in effect through Monday night.
The system is the latest onslaught of severe weather a day after a half-mile-wide tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction through the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., killing at least 15.
Tornadoes also killed one person each in Oklahoma and Iowa on Sunday.
Mississippi Republican Sen. Giles Ward huddled in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their 19-year-old dog Monday as a tornado destroyed his two-story brick house and flipped his son-in-law’s SUV upside down onto the patio in Louisville, seat of Winston County and home to about 6,600 .
“For about 30 seconds, it was unbelievable,” Ward said. “It’s about as awful as anything we’ve gone through.”
He estimated that 30 houses in his neighborhood were either destroyed or heavily damaged. After the storm had passed, Ward and his family went to a neighbor’s home where 19 people had waited out the tornado in a basement.
He said six people were reported trapped in a basement in another home in the subdivision.
Altogether, 45 people had been injured in Louisville, but no deaths had been reported, said Jack Mazurak, a spokesman for the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, designated communications command post for disasters.