Nearly 200 Dead After A Bad Night Of Tornadoes

The American South has been ravaged by tornadoes for the better part of this week, and last night was probably the worst of it:

ATLANTA — The death toll in five Southern states rose sharply Thursday morning to nearly 200 after devastating storms ripped through the region, spawning a deadly tornado in downtown Tuscaloosa, Ala., and leaving a trail of flattened homes and buildings in an area already battered by storms.

States of emergency have been declared from Alabama to Virginia, and President Obama said in a statement that the federal government had pledged its assistance.

“Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by this devastation, and we commend the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster,” Mr. Obama said. “While we may not know the extent of the damage for days, we will continue to monitor these severe storms across the country and stand ready to continue to help the people of Alabama and all citizens affected by these storms.” Across Alabama, at least 128 people were killed — 13 in the Birmingham area alone — and more than 300 injured by storms on Wednesday, said Yasamie August, information manager of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

“I would be pretty sure about saying we’ve never had 128 people die in one day,” Ms. August said. “It’s going to be difficult to get an accurate count of damage or injuries at this point. Many people can’t get to a hospital.”

There were at least 32 deaths in Mississippi, and The Associated Press reported 11 deaths in Georgia, 15 in Tennessee and 8 in Virginia.

As the storm churned towards the eastern seaboard on Thursday morning, tornado fears spread as far north as New York State. The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland, and in Sullivan County, N.Y., northwest of New York City.

We went through two tornado warnings here in Virginia last night, and it looks like it’s going to be another rocky afternoon all down the East coast. Stay safe out there.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. The latest numbers have topped 200 and on the ground reports in Birmingham suggest that the final numbers are going to be even higher.

  2. I take it your area is okay then? The closest I came was a really bad storm cell that may or may not have contained a tornado that passed about 5 miles east of where I live. Of course waking up this morning and learning I’d slept through another Tornado Warning was a bit disconcerting.

  3. All is well here–I am 2+ hours south/southeast of Tuscaloosa and a little under 2 hours south of where Birmingham was hit. We had high winds all day, and a couple of strong thunderstorm cells pass over, but nothing serious. There was a tornado on the ground to our northeast that also did some serious damage, but it was in a less populated area and so has not gotten much in the way of press attention to date.

  4. G.A.Phillips says:

    Man! Stay safe guys…

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    Indianapolis had tornado sirens going off most nights for the past week. I grew up in a house with a basement and a relatively safe place to stay. Living in a city in a ranch house (or even worse an apartment) with no place to take shelter is a scary situation. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by the storms, and those in areas that are still under threat.