Rare tornados rampant in southern U.S., over 40 killed

CNC
Added On December 28, 2015

HOUSTON/BEIJING, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Tornados and floods caused by fierce storms that were very rare at this season continued raging in southern United States, claiming lives of more than 40.

At least 11 people were killed in the Dallas area in Texas over the weekend by tornadoes. Powerful wind of up to 300 km per hour was recorded for the city of Garland.

Most of the deaths being reported were caused by accidents as tornadoes blew the vehicles the victims were riding in off highways during the storms.

Weather service officials said a tornado of that strength is very rare in a metropolitan area. In addition, powerful tornadoes usually hit in spring and summer but occur less frequently in winter.

"It is total devastation," Garland Police spokesman Lieutenant Pedro Barineau said, adding that it is a very difficult time to be struck by such a horrible storm at the Christmas season.

Northeastward, officials in Arkansas said a tornado touched down in Bearden as a severe weather system rolled into the region.

Ouachita County Sheriff David Norwood told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper that a twister appeared to have reached in a four-block area in the county. He said the storm took roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered storefront windows.

In neighboring Missouri state, Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency because of widespread flooding.

Nixon's office said in a release Sunday that weekend flooding has led to eight deaths, dozens of water rescues and evacuations. More flooding is expected while river levels continue rising around the state.

Nixon says the state's emergency plan has been activated, allowing state agencies to coordinate with local authorities to provide emergency services.

Earlier, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant had declared a state of emergency for affected areas in the state after confirming seven deaths from the severe weather that began moving through the state early Wednesday morning

"The storms caused widespread damage to houses, mobile homes and public structures," the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) said in a statement. "More than 1,400 power outages have been reported as of Thursday morning, and weather-related debris forced numerous road closures in the affected counties."

The MEMA also confirmed at least 40 injuries in the state.

In Tennessee, the year-end storms killed at least three, including a 22-year-old man in Rhea County and a 70-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman in Perry County.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said the state will remain at a Level III-State of Emergency "due to the potential for more severe weather and heavy rain coming into the state."