Heavy storms impact Alabama, Southeast

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A line of severe thunderstorms moved out of Texas and across the South on Monday, bringing flash flooding, power outages and wind damage.

At approximately 3:55 p.m. on Monday, Pike County was placed under a tornado warning when rotation was spotted on radar in the northern section of the county.

The tornado warning lasted from 3:55 until 4:45 without a reported sighting of a tornado. As of 6:45 on Monday, no damage was reported as a result of the storm.

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With the heavy rains associated with the storm combined with the amount of rain in the area over the past week, Pike County also under a flash flood warning on Monday evening. Pike County has received over seven inches of rain over the past few days not including what fell on Monday.

Wind damage was reported in a band across central Louisiana and into southern Mississippi, although no injuries or deaths were immediately reported.

Some wind damage was also reported in Houston and throughout East Texas in the morning. Though Arkansas had also been included in warnings, there was only a stray report of hail in Jackson County in the northeast part of the state.

National Weather Service forecasters said that at least some of the damage may have been caused by tornadoes.

“It was obviously wind damage,” said Johnathan Brazzell of the Weather Service’s Lake Charles, Louisiana, office. “Whether it was straight-line winds or tornadoes, that will have to be determined through a field survey.”

Louisiana utilities reported more than 45,000 customers without power early Monday afternoon, while Mississippi utilities reported power was out to more than 23,000 customers.

Freddie Zeigler, a meteorologist in the Weather Service’s New Orleans office, said heavy winds were preceding the squall line, possibly contributing to power outages. A gust of 52 mph was reported at McComb, Mississippi, about 1 p.m. Monday.

It was the second episode of heavy rain within days for some areas, especially along the Gulf Coast. Although flood warnings were posted for many areas, Brazzell said it appeared flooding would be “minor,” with few impacts to structures.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said that 6.9 million people in large parts Louisiana, Mississippi and south Alabama are at the highest risk of storms Monday. The area included several large cities such as New Orleans; Jackson, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama.