6 Injured as Powerful Storms Tear Through the South

Powerful storms moved through Alabama and Florida on Friday, injuring six people, damaging several mobile homes and taking out power lines, the authorities said.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for parts of Alabama, Florida and Georgia on Friday morning. The primary threats were “intense tornadoes” and “possible scattered damaging wind gusts” of up to 70 miles per hour, the Weather Service said.

The service will not be able to verify whether tornadoes caused the damage until after officials conduct full assessments on Saturday, said Caitlin Ford, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, Ala.

A violent storm injured six people and damaged nine mobile homes in Atmore, Ala., about 50 miles northeast of Mobile, Sheriff Heath Jackson of Escambia County said on Friday.

“It looked like all the trailers just exploded,” Sheriff Jackson said of the scene. “The roofs were completely gone. The walls were gone. The mobile homes just mostly had the frames left, and half of those were turned upside down or bent in half.”

Those injured were taken to hospitals. Two people with more severe injuries were transferred to larger hospitals in Mobile, but none of the injuries were life-threatening, and there were no fatalities, the sheriff said.

One man was asleep in his mobile home when the winds picked up, and he woke up in the woods, Sheriff Jackson said, adding, “He’s alive and well, and he’s a very very lucky man.”

In the last four years there’s been an increase in strong storms, Sheriff Jackson said.

“We’ve been having these issues a lot lately, it feels like,” he said. “I’d say we’re having more damage from straight line winds and tornadoes than we’ve had in the past.”

The same storm system also caused damage in Florida, Ms. Ford said.

The National Weather Service received preliminary damage reports from Okaloosa County, Fla.

Four homes and a number of trees were damaged in Holt, Fla., about 40 miles northeast of Pensacola. Holt also had power lines down and tree branches breaking through roofs, the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter. No injuries were reported, but at least one mobile home was damaged, the office said.

Andy Haner, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Fla., said that a tornadic debris signature was detected in rural areas of Washington and Walton Counties in the Florida Panhandle on Friday afternoon.

The signatures are “100 percent confirmation that there was a tornado,” Mr. Haner said. “But luckily it seemed to have happened away from any towns.”

According to a preliminary damage report, trees across a 50-yard area were blown down in an unpopulated area of Walton County.

“But we’re not out of the woods, yet,” Mr. Haner said, adding that the most stormy weather was still occurring on Friday night in Dade County in southern Florida.

Source: NY Times