Tornadoes in the South; snow in Plains and Upper Midwest
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- A trail of damage was left at an Army post, schools and businesses were closed for a second day, and a damaged women's prison was running partly on backup power Wednesday after two days of storms unleashed tornadoes and flooding in the South and dumped heavy snow in the Midwest.
The most recent apparent twister knocked down some trees and damaged vehicles and buildings at Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia on Wednesday evening, spokesman Kevin Larson said. He said the extent of the damage was not immediately known, but there were no reports of injuries. Fort Stewart is the largest Army post east of the Mississippi River. Much of its land area is uninhabited forestland.
The National Weather Service had reports of a tornado moving northeast at about 35 mph, and tornado warnings had been issued for Chatham, Bryan and Effingham counties west of Savannah.
In western Alabama, the administration building at the Federal Correctional Institution Aliceville was running on a generator Wednesday, a day after a tornado struck the low-security lockup housing about 1,850 inmates, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. No employees or inmates were hurt, the statement said.
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. 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.
In Mississippi, 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 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.
The storms also produced flooding. In Georgia, an apartment building was evacuated due to flooding before dawn Wednesday 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. In Cheatham County, near Nashville, Tennessee, officials said a driver had to be rescued Wednesday when his sport utility vehicle was swept into a flooded creek.
Farther west, a powerful snowstorm buried parts of Colorado and Nebraska in more than a foot of snow on Tuesday before crawling into the Upper Midwest. The storm knocked out power and triggered flight cancellations across a large swath of states from Colorado to northern Michigan.
Several Nebraska schools and businesses remained closed a second day Wednesday as workers tried to reopen snow-covered roads. Interstate 80 was reopened after a 275-mile stretch was closed from Ogallala east to Lincoln, though other highways remained closed as snowplows pushed aside ice, slush and snow.
In south-central Nebraska, more than 18 inches of snow were recorded in Grand Island and nearly 16 inches in nearby Hastings, according to the National Weather Service. The northeastern Nebraska communities of Verdigre and Wayne had 16 inches of snow, while 14 inches was reported in Norfolk. Utilities reported that electricity has been restored to almost all of the more than 20,000 customers who'd lost power.
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."
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.