Dec 23, 2014 6:38 PM

Severe weather slams southern US; 1 killed

The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) Severe weather slamming through the southern U.S. two days before Christmas killed at least one person, knocked out power to thousands and damaged several homes and buildings.

Columbia, Mississippi, Fire Department Capt. Tommy Graves told the Hattiesburg American newspaper that one person was confirmed dead at a trailer park in the city about 80 miles southeast of Jackson. He said two more people were injured. Storm spotters in the area said it was a tornado that touched down but that hadn't been confirmed.

Marion County Emergency Management director Aaron Greer told the newspaper that some people were still trapped inside their homes near U.S. 98 and Mississippi 13. He said several businesses and homes in the area were damaged or destroyed. Television footage showed cars, including an ambulance, flipped and businesses heavily damaged.

Calls from The Associated Press to the fire department and Greer weren't immediately returned Tuesday night.

National Weather Service meteorologist Latrice Maxie said there's been some significant damage to homes and businesses reported in the Columbia area. A survey team will be dispatched Wednesday to determine whether a tornado was responsible, she said.

WDAM-TV reports power lines were down along U.S. 98 and authorities were urging motorists to avoid the area as darkness fell.

A telephone call to the Marion County Sheriff's Office was not answered.

Watches and warnings were out for a swath of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama with the storms moving toward Georgia, including Atlanta, and Florida late Tuesday into Christmas Eve.

According to local media reports, a tornado apparently touched down in Amite, Louisiana, downing several power lines and trees and tearing the roof off at least one home.

Golf ball-sized hail fell in Enterprise, Mississippi, along with some pea-sized hail in the Bude area.

Flooding also was forecast in several areas because of several inches of rain piling up.


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