Deadly Tornadoes Sweep South

At least fourteen people were killed in a wave of tornadoes that struck Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri.

A powerful storm system packing tornadoes that killed at least seven people in Alabama and one other in Missouri is being blamed for nine more deaths in Georgia, a state official said early Friday. The storm, which swept through Georgia Thursday night, killed six people in Baker County near the town of Newton, Fire Chief Andy Belinc said early Friday.

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A tornado apparently touched down near the Sumter Regional Hospital in Americus, 117 miles south of Atlanta, killing at least two people at or near the hospital, injuring an undetermined number of others and damaging the building, Weiss said.

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The burst of tornadoes was part of a larger line of thunderstorms and snowstorms that stretched from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast. Authorities blamed a tornado for the death of a 7-year-old girl in Missouri, and twisters were reported in Kansas.

Officials in Alabama were blaming the storms for at least seven deaths in that state, including five at a school in Enterprise, about 75 miles south of Montgomery, where a roof and wall collapsed, pinning people, after being struck by a tornado.

The Birmingham News reports the death toll in Alabama may be over 18.

I’ve been to many of those places, having lived just a few miles from Enterprise while teaching at Troy State and not too far from Newton and Americus when I was teaching at Bainbridge College. I also lived at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for a year, although that was more than thirty years ago, now. A week ago, tornadoes devastated the town of Dumas, Arkansas, where my mother-in-law grew up.

It’s amazing how powerful these storms are and how suddenly-appearing. In Alabama, tornadoes are so common and have done so much damage that the big television stations in Birmingham have been known to preempt programming for non-stop Storm Watch Super Doppler Radar 6 programming during any Tornado Warning, breathlessly following the path of the storm activity. Some of us have been known to complain about this level of hype. Still, there have been several incidents now where schools, churches, and other large gatherings were struck with catastrophic effect.

Steven Taylor, who lives outside Montgomery and still teaches in Troy, has several posts on the storms (here, here, here, and here).

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

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