JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A tornado-damaged women’s prison was running partly on backup power and heavy rain prompted an apartment evacuation in northwest Georgia on Wednesday, a day after storms spawned tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama and dumped snow on places farther west.
The administration building at the Federal Correctional Institution Aliceville, near the town of Aliceville in western Alabama, was running on a generator, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. No employees or inmates were hurt by the tornado that struck late Tuesday afternoon at the low-security lockup, which houses about 1,850 inmates, the statement said. In the same region, more than a dozen homes were destroyed by a tornado that touched down in the town of McMullen on Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service said.
The weather service said its survey crews on Wednesday were working to determine how many tornadoes struck and where they hit.
In Georgia, the apartments being evacuated due to flooding before dawn Wednesday were near the town of Fort Oglethorpe, just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, the weather service said, citing a report from an emergency manager in Catoosa County, Georgia. No serious injuries were reported.
On Tuesday, tornadoes touched down in Mississippi and Alabama as thunderstorms swept through the region, while a powerful snowstorm buried parts of Colorado and Nebraska in more than a foot of snow before crawling into the Upper Midwest.
A confirmed tornado was reported just before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in eastern Newton and Lauderdale counties, largely rural areas in the eastern part of the state, said Greg Flynn, spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. The storm damaged homes, toppled trees and knocked out power, said Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie.
In Alabama, the National Weather Service in Birmingham reported a “confirmed large and destructive tornado” on the ground in the same general area as the women’s prison, about 45 miles west of Tuscaloosa. Minor injuries were reported.
Later, in west Tennessee, high winds damaged several homes and several buildings at Crockett County High School, the National Weather Service said. Public schools were closed Wednesday to survey damage from the weather.
In Cheatham County, near Nashville, officials said a driver had to be rescued Wednesday when his sport utility vehicle was swept into a flooded creek.
The combination of snow in one part of the country and severe thunderstorms in another isn’t unusual when a powerful system moves across the country, said Greg Carbin with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.
“February can feature some exciting dynamics in the atmosphere,” Carbin said. “This system we’ve had our eye on since it was in the Pacific.”
The weather system that blew in from California steadily dumped snow on the Denver area Monday and continued overnight. Heavy snowfall and powerful winds on Tuesday knocked out power, prompt schools and businesses to close, and triggered flight cancellations across a large swath of states from Colorado to northern Michigan.
Funk reported from Omaha, Nebraska. Associated Press writers also contributing to this report were Colleen Slevin in Denver; Dirk Lammers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Missouri; Nelson Lampe and Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska; Phillip Lucas in Birmingham, Alabama; and Jeff Martin in Atlanta.
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