POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 6:06am
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 1:01pm
A weather system stretching from Michigan to the Louisiana coastline threw down high winds and spawned a handful of tornadoes Wednesday, causing damage across several states and claiming at least one life.
A 47-year-old man died early Wednesday when high winds toppled a tree onto the roof of his home in Nashville, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said. Other injuries were reported in Chester, McNairy and Henderson counties, spokesman Jeremy Heidt said.
The National Weather Service reported severe weather or damage Wednesday in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Indiana.
A crew for CNN affiliate WSB-TV saw a tornado touch down in Adairsville, Georgia, on Wednesday. The tornado destroyed a home and flipped several cars, the station reported. Citing Floyd County officials, the station also reported someone trapped inside a home there after a tree fell on it.
The weather service reported overturned cars and major structural damage in downtown Adairsville. The agency also reported multiple buildings damaged in Calhoun, Georgia.
Southern Alabama, northern Georgia and parts of Tennessee and Kentucky were under tornado watches Wednesday afternoon, the weather service said.
Earlier, in Alabama, the storms blew the metal roof off a building in Sheffield, CNN affiliate WHNT said. The storm also damaged a church steeple in Rogersville, the station reported.
In Kentucky, winds blew off much of the roof of the Penrod Missionary Baptist Church and damaged several homes, CNN affiliate WFIE reported.
In Nashville, the weather service listed dozens of damage reports across the region: a funnel cloud was reported early Wednesday in Jackson County, there were dozens of reports of downed trees and power lines, and law enforcement reported damage to homes and businesses.
CNN affiliate WSMV also reported the partial collapse of an office building in Mount Juliet.
"I built it myself to take an event like this. And it looks like a freight train hit it," the station quoted building owner Dewey Lineberry as saying. "It's just destroyed. It laid the building down on top of cars, it put the building on top of people. It's unbelievable."
Workers who were inside the building when the storm hit took cover under mattresses, the station said.
The storm came dangerously close to WSMV, the station reported: Workers had to move to a safe room when a buzzer in the newsroom alerted them of storm danger around 4 a.m. (5 a.m. ET) Wednesday, the station reported.
In Wilson County, Tennessee, strong winds damaged four buildings, though it was not immediately known if it was the result of a tornado, Emergency Management Director John Jewell told CNN.
One family became trapped inside their mobile home and were rescued, he said.
About 14,000 people in the country were without power, Jewell added.
On Tuesday, the storms raked Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, among other places, with heavy rains and high winds.
William Jones waited out the storm with his family inside their truck, CNN affiliate KFSM reported.
"We pulled over and come to stop and about the same time we stopped was when it started to cross the road about 100-150 yards ahead of us," the station quoted him as saying. "We watched it tear out all the trees, throw the debris in the road."
A large springlike storm system is pushing severe thunderstorms, damaging winds and unstable conditions favorable for tornadoes eastward through the Mississippi Valley.
Heavy gusts in excess of 70 mph could bring significant damage. "I think it's definitely a dangerous night and day," CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera said.
The system should not produce a mass of tornadoes, since there is not a lot of cloud rotation, Cabrera said. The storm poses "mainly a straight-line threat."
In spite of this, tornado watches have been issued all along the weather system. Wind advisories extend from the Deep South to Virginia, the weather service said.
Flood warnings and watches speckle the weather map from Michigan to southern Louisiana. Many regions should see heavy downpours, Cabrera said, but the front is not expected to stall out and dump excessive amounts of precipitation in any particular area.
The wet weather is predicted to trigger winter storms in the northern Plains states. A freezing rain advisory is in effect for much of Iowa and Wisconsin.
The system is forecast to weaken during the day Wednesday but will still pack potentially dangerous weather conditions for the southeastern United States.