Tornado watch issued for Charleston area following deadly storms in Deep South
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch until 11 p.m. Sunday for Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties following a deadly storm system that moved through Alabama earlier.
Earlier Sunday, the service tweeted that there was a possible tornado moving through Columbia. The service later told The Post and Courier they don’t have confirmation of tornado touchdown. They sent out tweets because they saw rotational activity on radar.
At least 14 people were killed by a possible tornado in Alabama on Sunday as severe storms destroyed mobile homes, snapped trees and left a trail of destruction amid weather warnings extending into Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, authorities said.
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told WRBL-TV on Sunday that damage in his community followed a path several miles long and appeared up to a fourth of a mile wide.
Jones said: “I can say that at this time we have 14 confirmed fatalities. And again, the search continues. We still have some people that are reported missing.”
He adds that several people have been taken to hospitals, “some of them with very serious injuries.”
“We’ve got about 150 first responders out there,” Rita Smith, spokeswoman for the Lee County Emergency Management Agency, told the Associated Press earlier Sunday. “They are doing a phenomenal job. Sadly, we know that we have two known confirmed fatalities and many, many injuries.”
Multiple homes were destroyed or damaged in Beauregard, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) east of Montgomery, Smith said.
Radar and video evidence showed what looked like a large tornado crossing the area near Beauregard shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, said meteorologist Meredith Wyatt with the Birmingham, Alabama, office of the National Weather Service.
Numerous tornado warnings were posted across parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina on Sunday afternoon as the powerful storm system raced across the region.
Buy Now A tornado watch has been issued Sunday for parts of Georgia and South Carolina until 11 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
In rural Talbotton, Georgia, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Atlanta, a handful of people were injured by either powerful straight-line winds or a tornado that destroyed several mobile homes and damaged other buildings, said Leigh Ann Erenheim, director of the Talbot County Emergency Management Agency.
Televised broadcast news footage showed smashed buildings with rooftops blown away, cars overturned and debris everywhere. Trees all around had been snapped bare of branches.
“The last check I had was between six and eight injuries,” Ereheim said in a phone interview. “From what I understand it was minor injuries, though one fellow did say his leg might be broken.”
She said searches of damaged homes and structures had turned up no serious injuries or deaths.
Henry Wilson of the Peach County Emergency Management Agency near Macon in central Georgia said a barn had been destroyed and trees and power poles had been snapped, leaving many in the area without power.
Authorities said a tornado was confirmed by radar in the Florida Panhandle late Sunday afternoon.
A portion of Interstate 10 on the Florida Panhandle was blocked in one direction in Walton County in the aftermath, said Don Harrigan, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.
“There’s a squall line moving through the area,” Harrigan told AP. “And when you have a mature line of storms moving into an area where low level winds are very strong, you tend to have tornadoes developing. It’s a favorable environment for tornados.”
The threat of severe weather was expected to continue until late Sunday. A tornado watch was also in effect for much of eastern Georgia, including Athens, Augusta and Savannah.
Associated Press writers Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama, Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia, Bill Cormier in Atlanta, and Ryan Kryska in New York contributed to this report.