Georgia tornado, apparent twisters, rain around Southeast

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Georgia tornado, apparent twisters, rain around Southeast

Atlanta (US), Apr 6 (AP) A large tornado toppled trees and power lines in rural Georgia and nearly a half dozen suspected twisters roughed up other areas of the Southeast as heavy rain and hail fell in spots.

Forecasters yesterday said a wide area including large parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina were under threat of powerful, long-lived tornadoes as severe storms raked the region. Schools, churches and some businesses shut and practice for the Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia, was rained out.

National Weather Service meteorologist Keith Stellman said a powerful tornado touched down at midday in southwest Georgia and traveled some distance on the ground in rural Stewart County. It left downed power lines and trees on roads, said Sandra James, a county sheriff’s office dispatcher.

Georgia emergency officials reported no catastrophic damage by late afternoon from that and other storms and no deaths or serious injuries.

Elsewhere, a suspected tornado touched down in southeastern Alabama, before crossing into Georgia, forecasters said. All told at least five possible tornados had been reported across Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina as the day wore on.

In Alabama, the storm hit an area dotted with vacation and full-time homes around Lake Eufaula, damaging some homes and knocking down power lines and trees, said official John Taylor, with the Henry County Emergency Management Agency. He reported no deaths or injuries there.

In South Carolina, the hardest-hit area was the town of Johnston with 2,300 residents, which calls itself The Peach Capital of the World. A possible tornado damaged about a dozen buildings there and many streets were blocked by downed trees, said Mayor Terrence Cullbreath.

“We need power back,” Cullbreath said by phone. “But there likely are more storms coming and they can’t get the power back in bad weather.”

Tornadoes weren’t the only threat yesterday. The nation’s Storm Prediction Center said winds blowing to near 70 mph in places toppled trees in other locations around Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Alabama Gov Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency and announced 50 National Guard soldiers were being deployed.

The weather threat promoted multiple school closings in Alabama and many early dismissals in South Carolina.

The Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted flights to Atlanta’s airport but those later resumed with arrival and departure delays.

And as storms bore down on Augusta National, the venerable east Georgia club shut down for the second time this week as golfers practiced for the opening of the Masters tournament later this week.

Officials cut short the final afternoon practice before the tournament start and ordered rain-bedraggled fans to leave the course. Augusta National also was forced to close Monday because of heavy rains.

In the east Alabama city of Oxford, convenience store manager Don Copeland was working up courage to go outside and look at his truck after a storm dumped so much grape-sized hail the ground turned white.

“It’s a 2015. I just made a USD 550 payment this morning,” Copeland said.

The weather service said it had gotten reports of baseball-sized hail in the west Alabama town of Camden, but only small ice pellets fell at the McGraw-Webb Chevrolet Inc.

(AP)

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.