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Apparent tornadoes hit US homes, prison

Apparent tornadoes hit US homes, prison

Apparent tornadoes destroyed houses, sent people to hospitals and tore up the roof of a maximum security prison in northern Alabama as bad weather threatened more twisters across the region Friday, two days after storms killed 13 people in the Midwest and South.
Anxiety mounted across a wide swathe of the U.S. where forecasters said strong storms could hit later in the day. Thousands of schoolchildren in several states were sent home as a precaution. Meanwhile, residents in parts of Illinois hit hard by the twisters earlier in the week salvaged what they could from damaged homes.
In Alabama, five people were taken to hospitals, and several houses were leveled by what authorities believed were tornadoes Friday morning. The extent of the people's injuries wasn't immediately known, and emergency crews were continuing to survey damage. No deaths were reported.
At least 10 homes were damaged in a subdivision in Athens. Homeowner Bill Adams watched as two men ripped shingles off the roof of a house he rents out, and he fretted about predictions that more storms would pass through.
"Hopefully they can at least get a tarp on it before it starts again," he said.
Not far away, the damage was much worse for retired high school band director Stanley Nelson. Winds peeled off his garage door and about a third of his roof, making rafters and boxes in his attic visible from the street.
"It's like it just exploded," he said.
An apparent tornado also damaged a state maximum security prison outside Huntsville, but none of the facility's approximately 2,100 inmates escaped. Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said there were no reports of injuries, but the roof was damaged on two large prison dormitories that each hold about 250 men. Part of the perimeter fence was knocked down, but the prison was secure.
"It was reported you could see the sky through the roof of one of them," Corbett said.
Authorities are confident that storms that hit Limestone and Madison counties were tornadoes, but it will be up to the National Weather Service to confirm the twisters, said Alabama State Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Yasamie August.
"We're still getting reports of damage pretty much as we speak," she said at midday.
Forecasters warned of severe thunderstorms with the threat of tornadoes crossing a region from southern Ohio through much of Kentucky and Tennessee. By early Friday afternoon, tornado watches covered parts of those states along with Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
In California, a late winter storm that dumped at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) of snow in parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains created ripe conditions Friday for snow sports enthusiasts but also posed avalanche dangers, as one man died while skiing in back country.
The fatality came after rescuers on snowmobiles found the group Thursday on a mountain south of Alpine Meadows Resort in Placer County. A wave of snow had hit the three men as they reportedly tried to climb a mountain on skis, a technique known as skinning. Authorities say that may have triggered the avalanche.
The heavy snow was welcome in the state hit by an especially dry winter, but officials say much more precipitation is needed to replenish water supplies and avoid reducing allotments to farmers. The state uses reservoirs and a system of aqueducts to deliver snowmelt to 25 million Californians who depend on it for all or part of their water.


Updated : 2021-04-19 01:59 GMT+08:00