At Least Five Dead as Tornado Outbreak Rips Across US Deep South

Tornadoes and severe storms have torn through the Deep South in the United States, killing at least five people.

The tornado outbreak rolled into western Georgia early Friday, splintering trees, wrecking homes and downing power lines. Meteorologists said one large, dangerous tornado moved through Newnan and surrounding communities in the Atlanta metro area.

A day earlier, a sheriff in eastern Alabama said a tornado cut a diagonal line through his county, striking mostly rural areas.

“Five people lost their lives and for those families, it will never be the same,” Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said in a press briefing.

As many as eight tornadoes might have hit Alabama on Thursday, said John De Block, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. Multiple twisters sprang from a “super cell” of storms that later moved into Georgia, he said.

Reports of tornado damage in the Newnan area began coming in shortly after midnight. Trees were toppled and power lines downed, knocking out service by the local utility.

“It’s still dark so it’s hard to assess all of the damage but we believe we have 30 broken poles,” Newnan Utilities general manager Dennis McEntire said. “We serve about 10,000 customers and about half are without electricity right now.”

Newnan police urged the public in a Facebook post to “get off the roads” while emergency officials surveyed the damage.

The bad weather stretched across the southern US, raising concerns of thunderstorms and flooding in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolinas. In Tennessee, emergency responders hospitalized one person in Sumner County, and the Nashville Fire Department posted photos on Twitter showing large trees down, damaged homes and streets blocked by debris.

In Ohio, more than 100,000 people were without power early Friday after thunderstorms delivered 50 mph (80 kph) wind gusts to parts of the state. Forecasters reported peak gusts of 63 mph (100 kph) in Marysville.

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