Storm death toll rises - and carnage may not be over

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 7:14 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 29 at 9:11 AM

William M. Welch, Doyle Rice and John Bacon, USA TODAY

At least 11 people were killed Monday after tornadoes ripped through Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, bringing the death toll from two days of vilent weather across a wide swath of the nation to at least 28.

And the carnage may not be over yet, the National Weather Service warned Tuesday.

The massive, slow-moving storm system flattened homes and businesses, uprooted trees and flipped cars across parts of southern and central U.S. The National Weather Service was investigating reports of almost 100 tornadoes -- with more violent weather forecast for Tuesday.

Al least seven deaths were reported in Mississippi on Monday, six of them in and around Louisville. a town of about 6,600 people. State Sen. Giles Ward said he was huddled in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their dog Monday night as a tornado destroyed his two-story brick house and turned his son-in-law's SUV upside down onto the patio in Louisville.

"Our family is OK, thank goodness," Ward told The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. "Our house as well as all the houses in our neighborhood it appears are destroyed. But our family is safe."

Later, he texted: "I have never prayed so hard in my life. God is good. All we have lost is stuff."

More than 60 million people from southeastern Michigan to the central Gulf coast to the Carolinas and southern Virginia are at risk of severe storms and tornadoes Tuesday, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Mississippi and Alabama remained the states with the highest risk of severe weather, with cities such as Meridian, Miss., and Birmingham, Ala., in the cross hairs for tornadoes, the Storm Prediction Center reported.

The East Coast was not exempt. A forecast of ongoing heavy rain caused the National Weather Service to issue flash flood watches from northern Florida to southern New England.

Injuries were reported in Tupelo, a community of about 35,000 in northeastern Mississippi, and in Louisville, Miss., the seat of Winston County about 90 miles northeast of Jackson, where about 6,600 people live, Mississippi Health Department spokesman Jim Craig said.

A medical center in Louisville, Miss., suffered wind damage, with two walls knocked down, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

Thirty tornadoes were reported Sunday night and early Monday in seven states, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Two deaths were reported in Tennessee. In Lincoln County, the National Weather Service lifted an initial tornado warning shortly after 7 p.m. Monday. The Weather Service then warned at 8:24 p.m. Monday that tornado was coming: "Catastrophic damage likely with storm in Lincoln County," the message read. "170 (knots) of rotation with debris extending above" 20,000 feet."

Within minutes, the warnings grew more dire with winds exceeding 190 mph, The Tennessean reported. Two people were killed in the county and several homes were destroyed, The Tennessean reports.

The warning seemingly came out of nowhere, said Chris Murdock, who lived 4 miles away from a damaged elementary school. While he and his family didn't see the tornado, the gusts and hail they saw as they went to a friend's basement were enough for him to know this wasn't an average spring storm.

"Just by the looks of it, you could tell something terrible was happening," he said.

Athens, Ala., spokeswoman Holly Hollman said the Limestone County sheriff's department reported two deaths from a twister that hit a mobile home park west of the town.

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