DeadlyStormsSweep Across South and Midwest, Leaving Trail of Destruction

A powerful storm system has swept across the South and Midwest, producing at least a dozen tornadoes and softball-sized hail, leaving over 200,000 people without power. The severe weather has resulted in at least three deaths, with widespread damage reported in Texas, Florida, and other states.

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Bijay Laxmi
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DeadlyStormsSweep Across South and Midwest, Leaving Trail of Destruction

DeadlyStormsSweep Across South and Midwest, Leaving Trail of Destruction

A powerful storm system has left a trail of destruction across the South and Midwest, producing at least a dozen tornadoes and softball-sized hail since Monday. The severe weather has resulted in at least three deaths and left over 200,000 people without power.

Why this matters: The frequency and severity of extreme weather events like thisstorm system have significant implications for climate change and disaster preparedness. As the region recovers from this devastating event, it also serves as a reminder for communities to invest in infrastructure and emergency response planning to mitigate the impact of future storms.

In Texas, hailstones as large as 5 inches in diameter were reported in Johnston City, with one hailstone measuring an estimated 6.25 inches across, which would be the second-largest hailstone ever found in the state. Medic Lydia Torres described the sound of hail hitting her ambulance vehicle as "bombs." "It sounded like bombs were hitting the top of the ambulance. Especially when it hit the top of the windshield, you could see the glass start to shatter everywhere," Torres said.

As of 7 a.m. ET, 95,000 Alabama residents, 57,000 in Mississippi, 17,000 in Georgia, and 17,000 in North Carolina were without power, according to PowerOutage.us. The majority of outages were reported in Florida, with 197,405 residents affected. The city of San Marcos reported "downed power lines and uprooted trees" due to the storm.

In Florida, a woman was killed when a tree fell onto her family's home in Tallahassee, where wind gusts of 80 to 100 mph (128 to 161 kph) were reported. The city's mayor, John Dailey, described the damage as "catastrophic." "Our area experienced catastrophic wind damage," Dailey said. Over 100 broken power poles left half of the city's 200,000 residents without electricity, with restoration efforts expected to take days.

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee warned of "damaging to destructive winds, isolated tornadoes, and large hail" in northern Florida, with heavy rainfall also a concern. Flash flooding is expected to be a major concern along the Gulf Coast, including New Orleans, where 5-7 inches of rain is expected to fall next week.

Since Monday, 39 states have been under threat of severe weather, with about 220 million people under some sort of severe weather risk on Wednesday and Thursday. The storms come on the heels of a stormy April, which saw 300 confirmed tornadoes, the second-most on record for the month. Residents are advised to stay informed and prepared for further severe weather, with the Storm Prediction Center warning of an "enhanced" risk of severe thunderstorms in areas surrounding the I-10 corridor.