1 dead as vast storm rakes South, Midwest

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Associated Press

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 30 at 1:02 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A large storm system packing high winds, hail and at least one tornado tore across a wide swath of the South and Midwest on Wednesday, killing one person, blacking out power to thousands and damaging homes.

The death was reported when a large tree blew down on a shed in Nashville, Tenn., where a man was sheltering, police told Nashville broadcaster WTVF-TV. Authorities did not immediately release further details when reached by The Associated Press.

Another person was reported injured by lightning in Arkansas during the storm's eastward trek. Two people suffered minor injuries when a mobile home was blown off its foundation in Kentucky. The severe weather system ushered in a cold front as it raced toward the Eastern seaboard, dumping rain over the region and creating a tornado risk in the South.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said it was investigating reports of at least four possible tornadoes in states including Arkansas and Mississippi. In Tennessee, officials confirmed that a tornado with peak wind speeds of 115 mph touched down in Mount Juliet. No serious injuries were reported there, though the path of damage was about 150 yards wide, including homes, a warehouse and an automotive business.

Hail ranging up to nearly golf-ball size was also reported in some areas and barns and other buildings collapsed or were damaged, the center added.

Thousands were reported without power in Tennessee, where tornado warnings and flash flood warnings were issued for several counties and a tractor-trailer was blown over by high winds. Authorities east of Nashville said they were checking a possible tornado in Mount Juliet, where the top floor of a three-story building was damaged.

Power lines fell, trees were toppled and some homes suffered damage to rooftops, reports indicated. The weather service said suspected straight-line winds of up to 80 mph were reported in Arkansas late Tuesday night along with flooding in Arkansas' northeastern corner.

Police in the Arkansas community of Monticello reported a person was injured by lightning late Tuesday, but the injury was not life-threatening.

In recent days, a large swath of the Midwest and South bathed in unseasonably balmy temperatures that reached the high 70s in some areas. A system pulling warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico was colliding with a cold front moving in from the west, creating volatility.

The nation has had its longest break between tornado fatalities since detailed tornado records began being kept in 1950, according to the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center. The last one was June 24, when a person was killed in a home in Highlands County, Fla. That was 220 days ago as of Tuesday.

The last day with multiple fatalities was June 4, when three people were killed in a mobile home in Scott County, Mo.

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