Tornadoes cause damage as storm pushes through Deep South
March 9, 2011 1:50 p.m. EST
- NEW: Three tornadoes touched down in Louisiana, weather service confirms
- What is believed to be a tornado damaged several buildings in Alabama town
- "It was 30 seconds of pure hell," says witness to apparent Alabama tornado
- Heavy rain is forecast through Thursday from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast
Damage in Terry, Mississippi, early Wednesday morning was caused by a tornado, a National Weather Service survey crew from Jackson, Mississippi said. The tornado was rated an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale with winds of 115 mph. Numerous trees were uprooted, and several homes and sheds were damaged by the tornado.
An apparent tornado in Theodore, Alabama, caused extensive damage to several businesses, but no fatalities and only minor injuries, according to Lena Phillips with the Theodore Fire Department.
It was "30 seconds of pure hell," said a man who witnessed the scene at a service station in the town of Theodore, Alabama. The station's awning collapsed, the roof was ripped off and trucks were flipped over, he told CNN affiliate WALA in Mobile.
"I'd been through some weather ... but nothing like that," Larry Bosarge told WALA. "It was loud and we had just enough time to take cover."
One bystander said he saw a tornado form and went to find shelter.
Tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service were in effect at various times for parts of southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle as the line of storms pressed toward Pensacola.
The warning areas are at the lower end of a stretch of severe weather that is forecast to bring plenty of rain as it moves from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. Flood watches were in effect in much of the mid-Atlantic region, where the heavy rain is expected to arrive later Wednesday into early Thursday.
Winds with gusts of 40 to 50 mph were recorded Wednesday morning on the edge of a continuous band of intense storms stretching from southeastern Louisiana into northeastern Georgia.
As the brunt of the storm moved out of Louisiana, it left behind swollen rivers and flooded streets from heavy rains that started just as Mardi Gras ended. CNN affiliate WGNO Metarie, Louisiana, showed motorists gingerly trying to navigate through a foot of water on a busy street Wednesday morning.
The National Weather Service said that at least three tornadoes were reported in Louisiana early Wednesday, and at least one injury has been reported.