Christmas Eve tornadoes touch down in US

December 24, 2015 7:37 am

 Tornadoes touched down in Mississippi and Indiana. Photo / Twitter

Storms packing strong winds and heavy rain slammed the mid-section
on Wednesday, and officials worried about Christmas yard decorations
becoming projectiles.
Tornadoes touched down in Mississippi and Indiana, the National Service said.
The
spring-like storms damaged buildings and knocked down trees, and
thousands of people were without power in Indiana and Arkansas.
A
tree blew over onto a house in Arkansas, killing an 18-year-old woman
and trapping her 1-year-old child inside, authorities said. Rescuers
pulled the toddler safely from the home.
A tornado touched down
in northwest Mississippi, said Jim Belles, a meteorologist with the
National Weather Service in Memphis, Tennessee.
“We’re tracking a
very large tornado,” Belles said. “We’re hearing reports of some damage
in parts of Coahoma County and reports of injuries, but we can’t
confirm any injuries.”
Television images showed the tornado appeared to be on the ground for more than 10 minutes.

Interstate 55 was closed in both directions as the tornado approached, the Mississippi Highway Patrol said.
After
an EF-1 tornado struck the south Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood,
television stations showed pictures of damage including a portion of a
roof blown off a veterinary office.
The biggest threat for
tornadoes was in a region of 3.7 million people in Mississippi,
Tennessee and Arkansas and parts of Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky,
according to the national Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma. Twisters
were possible from midday Wednesday through the evening.

Elsewhere, the Northeast enjoyed spring-like temperatures as people rushed to finish last-minute shopping.
In
a reversal of a typical Christmas, forecasters expected New York to be
in the mid-60s Fahrenheit (about 18 degrees Celsius) on Christmas Eve ”
about the same temperatures as Los Angeles. Only about half of the U.S.
should expect the possibility of a white Christmas.
“I try not to
think about it too much because it’s very bizarre and it’s unusual for
this time of year for it to be so warm and for such a long time,” said
Marla Wojacksyk, 48, who was taking her excited 4-year-old daughter to
see Santa Claus at Macy’s department store in Manhattan.
“But I
have a little girl and she’s enjoying the Christmas spirit,” Wojacczyk
added, as her daughter Zoe jumped up and down with glee, pulling her
mother toward the store’s entrance.
In Alabama, heavy rains overnight left some downtown Mobile streets flooded during the morning rush hour.
Across
Mobile Bay in the small town of Loxley, Mandy Wilson watched the angry
gray sky and told drivers to be careful as she worked a cash register at
Love’s Travel Stop.
“It’s very ugly; it’s very scary,” Wilson
said. “There’s water standing really bad. It’s a really interesting way
to spend Christmas Eve eve.”
The threat of severe weather just
before Christmas is unusual, but not unprecedented, said Greg Carbin, a
meteorologist at the national Storm Prediction Center. On Christmas Day
in 2012, a storm system spawned several tornadoes, damaging homes from
Texas to Alabama.
In Tennessee, emergency officials worried that
powerful winds could turn holiday yard decorations into projectiles, the
same way gusts can fling patio furniture in springtime storms, said
Marty Clements, director of the Madison County Emergency Management
Agency in the city of Jackson.
“If you go through these
neighborhoods, there are a lot of people very proud of what they’ve put
out and they’ve got stuff everywhere – all these ornaments and deer and
everything else,” Clements said. “They’re not manufactured to withstand
that kind of wind speed, so they become almost like little missiles.”
Once
the strong storms clear out, forecasters say, the high temperature in
Atlanta on Christmas Eve is expected to be in the mid-70s (about 24
degrees Celsius). That could break the record for Dec. 24, which is 72
degrees (22 Celsius) set in 1984, according to weather service records.
In New York City, ice skaters wore shorts at the rink in Bryan Park. Some shoppers grumbled about a drab and humid drizzle.
“It’s
too warm for me. I don’t like it. I prefer the cold in the winter, in
December. Gives you more of that Christmas feel,” said Daniel Flores, a
concierge from the Bronx, his light jacket zipped open as he strolled in
Manhattan.

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