published Thursday, March 1st, 2012

3 killed in storms across Tennessee

A pedestrian crosses Market Street on Wednesday morning in a light rain as Bradford pear tree blooms emerge in warmer than normal temperatures on the last day of February.
A pedestrian crosses Market Street on Wednesday morning in a light rain as Bradford pear tree blooms emerge in warmer than normal temperatures on the last day of February.
Photo by Tim Barber.
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Three confirmed fatalities and an unspecified number of injuries were reported after severe weather raked parts of Tennessee, North Georgia and northeast Alabama on Wednesday.

More severe weather could hit the area again Friday.

Two women died in Tennessee's Cumberland County and the third in DeKalb County, emergency officials and a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service said.

Specifics about the victims have not been released.

"At this time, I don't know if they were in their houses, their cars, or what," said Lee Lawson, a Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency spokesman.

Another fatality was reported in DeKalb County, Tenn., as well.

It appeared to be the most deadly weather outbreak in Tennessee since 37 people died in tornadoes last April 27-28.

There were no immediate details about the fatalities or whether tornadoes were involved. National Weather Service spokeswoman Brittney Whitehead said survey teams would head out after dawn Thursday to evaluate the damage and determine if tornadoes touched down.

Storms traveling as fast as 75 mph moved through Tennessee on Wednesday, flattening trees, tearing roofs off and downing power lines, The Associated Press reported. Accompanying the winds were thunder, lightning and ping-pong-ball-sized hail.

Several people also have sustained weather-related injuries. However, there are no people reported missing, Lawson said.

"Tennessee was expected to see the majority of the storm, and I think that's still fair to say," said Robert Garcia, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga. "The forecast has held up for the most part. We always prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

Wednesday's storm cells continued to move south overnight, making room for more severe weather to move into the Tennessee Valley area throughout the afternoon and into the evening on Friday, Garcia said.

"Right now, that puts the area at a slight risk for more severe weather," he said.

According to The Associated Press, most of the heavier storms moved north of Tennessee toward Missouri and southern Illinois, where at least six deaths were reported.

Alabama schools in Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence and Limestone counties, as well as Rushville City, dismissed early Wednesday because of the threat of severe weather.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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