USA battered by 36 tornadoes; at least two reported dead
Intense storms spawning dozens of tornadoes tore through large swathes of the US South leaving at least two people dead, knocking out power to thousands and damaging several homes, authorities said Wednesday.
Fierce winds, heavy rain and hail
The severe weather systems that included fierce winds, heavy rain and hail threatened millions of Americans across eight states from Texas to Georgia beginning Tuesday, with tornado warnings forcing residents to seek shelter.
At least two dead
In Alabama, two people died before dawn Wednesday when "severe weather, most likely a tornado," hit North Montgomery County, an official there quoted the county sheriff's office as saying.
36 tornadoes in total
At least 36 tornadoes in all were reported touching down in the Gulf coast states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, while dangerous wind and hail were also reported in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia, according to the National Weather Service.
Thousands without power
Tornadoes damaged roads, downed trees and power lines, and blew roofs off houses, NWS said.
As of 10:00 am (1500 GMT) Wednesday some 27,000 customers in Alabama and 12,000 in Tennessee were without power, monitoring site poweroutage.us reported.
Frequent, often devastating weather phenomenon
Tornadoes are a frequent and often devastating weather phenomenon in the United States, with the Great Plains states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas the hardest hit.
Twisters that strike overnight are particularly dangerous -- and often more deadly -- because they are difficult to see in the dark.
This time last year
In early November a series of tornadoes battered Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas, leaving one person dead.
In December last year, dozens of devastating tornadoes ripped through five states at night, leaving at least 79 people dead in Kentucky -- with fatalities also recorded in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois.