Authorities: 4 injured when storms rake Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- A severe storm front packing gusting winds left four people injured as it punched across a wide swath of the Southeast, downing power lines, toppling trees and damaging at least one mobile home in Mississippi, authorities said Thursday.

There were also preliminary reports of minor damage in Arkansas and the storm also raked across Tennessee on its eastward trek during the night and early hours Thursday. Some utility poles in Mississippi snapped from the force of the winds and a tree fell on at least one home, local dispatchers and an official with the state's civil emergency agency told The Associated Press.

A worker at Mississippi's Sharkey Issaquena Community Hospital in Rolling Fork said four people had been taken in stable condition there with injuries and two were sent on to the University Medical Center in the state capital of Jackson. The employee declined further comment when asked about the extent of the injuries.

A University Medical Center spokeswoman later said the two injured sent there were in good condition.

Jeff Rent, a spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said at least six northern counties in his state initially reported damage. He said experts would check for further reports of damage Thursday and also seek to determine whether reports of some possible tornadoes embedded in the vast front could be confirmed.

"These were severe storms that produced damaging winds," he said. But whether tornadoes or straight-line winds or some other type of storm were responsible, he said that determination would come in later hours.

Radar weather maps overnight showed a huge, arcing front that swept across Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and parts of states such as Louisiana and Alabama on its march eastward on a jagged slant.

In Oklahoma, a Storm Prediction Center meteorologist, Greg Dial, said there had been reports of possible tornadoes in some parts of the country.

"Mostly we've had reports of damaging wind, but we have had a few reports of tornadoes. Most of the tornadoes have been from extreme eastern Arkansas into northwestern and west-central Mississippi," Dial told AP.

He also said there were a few minor reports of damage in Arkansas such as homes off blocks.

He said the storms extended from southwest Louisiana northeastward over several states, advancing on portions of Alabama and Georgia, among other areas.

Meteorologist Brian Koeneke at the National Weather Service in Jackson said the severe weather warnings in his state were widespread during the night. The National Weather Service had begun issuing tornado watches and warnings for many areas of Mississipi beginning late Wednesday afternoon and expanding those as the hours wore on.

In Missisippi, dispatcher Erica Severson with the dispatch office for Yazoo City and county said winds roughed up some areas.

"We had a bunch of trees down and a bunch of power lines down," she told AP, adding there had been a report of a possible tornado in a nearby county.

In Louisiana, authorities reported trees down in at least two parishes and one home with a damaged roof when part of the front swept through that state.


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