Punishing winds, possible tornadoes inflict damage as storms cross US South

This screenshot taken from a video shows a tornado on Wednesday in Blakely, Ga. (Rand McDonald/via AP)

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — Damaging winds and possible tornadoes toppled trees, damaged buildings and blew cars off a highway Wednesday as powerful storms crossed the South from Texas to Georgia.

The National Weather Service issued numerous tornado warnings, mainly in southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia, and cautioned that gusts of hurricane-force winds exceeding 90 mph (145 kph) were possible in parts of northeast Louisiana and central Mississippi. Some areas also were pelted with large hail.

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Forecasters said severe storm threats could persist into Thursday, with the greatest risk across southern Alabama and Georgia into the Florida Panhandle as well as Oklahoma and parts of northern Texas and southern Kansas.

Felecia Bowser, meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, Florida, called the far-reaching inland storm system unprecedented for this time of year.

“In June, we’re usually gearing up more for tropical weather,” Bowser said. “This type of widespread, aggressive precipitation that we’re seeing today usually occurs more so in the spring.”

Two people escaped unharmed from a home that was destroyed Wednesday as storms raked rural southwest Georgia, Calhoun County Sheriff Josh Hilton said. He told WALB-TV the home in Quail County Plantation, near the county line with neighboring Early County, was demolished.

Video posted on social media showed a large funnel cloud churning on the horizon near the rural city of Blakely, and officials in nearby communities reported downed trees and snapped power lines.

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