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Tornados hit South; snow, freezing rain hit Midwest

PRATTVILLE, Alabama (AP) — Severe weather howled through much of the nation Sunday, producing damaging tornadoes in the South that injured nearly 30 people and treating winter-weary parts of the Midwest to freezing rain, snow and flooding.

A tornado damaged or destroyed about 200 homes and businesses in Prattville, Alabama, outside Montgomery, where Mayor Jim Byard said crews searched for people trapped in the wreckage.

No fatalities were immediately reported, but two people were critically injured, said Fire Department official Dallis Johnson. Twenty-seven people had minor injuries, officials said.

It’s very possible we may have more injuries, he said, saying that some trapped people had been rescued.

A 35-bed mobile hospital unit was set up outside a Kmart to treat victims with minor to moderate injuries so that hospitals could take those with serious injuries, Dr. Steve Allen said.

Toppled utility poles and storm debris littered the area, northwest of Montgomery about five miles off Interstate 65. Shelters opened at churches, and school buses shuttled storm victims out of the stricken area to the city center.

David Shoupe, 18, assistant manager at Palm Beach Tan, said he and a co-worker barely made it into a laundry room before the roof fell in and the wind tossed shopping carts aloft.

Soon as we turned the corner, the roof collapsed everywhere except the laundry room, Shoupe said, standing beside his white Lexus, with a front windshield cracked by debris and the other windows shattered.

About 9,000 homes and businesses lost power in Prattville after storms swept across the South, damaging homes elsewhere in Alabama and in the Florida Panhandle.

A tornado destroyed four homes in Escambia County, Florida, with several others damaged, county and National Weather Service officials said. Across the border in Escambia County, Alabama, two houses were destroyed by a possible tornado in rural Dixie, the Weather Service said.

The storm damaged some structures in Covington County, Alabama, and toppled trees, said Jeremie Shaffer, assistant director of the county emergency management agency.

The National Weather Service warned of tornado threats and winds of 70 mph as the storm system moved into Georgia.

Freezing rain and snow fell across the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin, still weary from a major snowstorm that stranded hundreds of motorists and snarled travel for days.

Numerous crashes were reported, and authorities urged people to stay off roads. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for much of Iowa and Wisconsin, as well as flood warnings in parts of the two states.

The conditions forced shopping malls, libraries and churches to close. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama postponed or canceled campaign stops ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

Heavy snow and slush closed Kansas City International Airport for almost six hours, the longest closure in its 35-year history, authorities said. Dozens of flights were canceled.

The severe weather in the South comes on the heels of a tornado outbreak this month that killed more than 50 people in several states, including Alabama.
Tornados hit South; snow, freezing rain hit Midwest – found here.

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February 18, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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