By Mira Oberman (AFP) – Mar 2, 2012
CHICAGO — At least six people were killed and one small town was "gone" as more than six dozen tornados tore across the central United States on Friday.
Five other deaths were reported, but have not yet been officially confirmed.
The latest wave of storms comes after a string of twisters killed 13 people earlier in the week.
Homes were flattened, schools and businesses were smashed, and cars, trucks and trees were tossed aside like candy as deadly funnel clouds descended on five states.
The National Weather Service had received 74 reports of tornados in seven states by Friday evening, bringing the week's total to 126, though not all were confirmed.
More could be on their way as a "particularly dangerous" tornado watch was set to continue until early Saturday in four states.
"This is a particularly dangerous situation," the NSW warned.
"Destructive tornados, large hail to 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters), thunderstorm wind gusts to 70 miles (112 kilometers) per hour and dangerous lightening are possible."
Officials in Clark County, Indiana were scrambling to deal with widespread damage from the storm after roads were blocked by fallen trees and debris and power and phone lines were knocked out.
"The reports on the telephone were that Marysville is gone," said Major Chuck Adams, the sheriff department spokesman, said of a small town near the Tennessee border.
"I can't confirm any damage right there yet -- we're just trying to concentrate on the more populated areas and we've been inundated with calls."
The coroner had been called out to deal with one fatality, but Adams said he was not yet sure if it was storm-related.
The high school in Henryville suffered "quite a bit of damage," but luckily all the children were evacuated safely and only minor injuries -- some cuts and scrapes -- were reported, Adams told AFP.
Four more deaths were reported in the town of Holton, Indiana, but a sheriff dispatcher contacted by AFP said she could not confirm the local media reports.
Indiana's department of homeland security confirmed that three people were killed in Jefferson County and three more died in Scott County.
"I am constantly amazed by both the unpredictability and the ferocity of what Mother Nature can unleash when she chooses to," Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels told CNN.
"We've learned to be pretty humble out here about the way in which we mere mortals can prepare no matter how hard we try."
Alabama's Madison county was also badly hit, with the weather service reporting "people trapped in rubble with injuries," houses destroyed, trees ripped from the ground a power lines down.
Six injuries were reported after 100 homes were damaged in Cleveland, Tennessee, the weather service said, and injuries were also reported in the town of New Pekin, Indiana.
This latest outbreak of twisters comes as people were still picking through rubble left behind by a series of twisters which struck six states on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The town of Harrisburg, Illinois was the hardest hit after it was ripped apart by a deadly twister that stayed on the ground for miles Wednesday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 100.
Some 545 people were killed by tornadoes in 2011, which was the deadliest tornado season since 1936 and the third worst on record, according to the national weather service.
This year, the tornados seem to have come a bit early with the mild winter creating the right conditions for cold fronts to slam into warmer air.
Peak tornado season in the southern states is usually March through May, and in the northern states late spring to early summer.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »