Tornado threats, heavy rain and snow expected as dangerous spring storms threaten millions

A likely tornado moved or rolled mobile homes and uprooted trees in Kentucky and buildings were damaged in Tennessee as severe weather swept across those and other states Tuesday, putting millions under weather alerts, officials said.

No deaths have been reported in what the National Weather Service called a major spring storm, but officials in Kentucky reported collisions resulting in injuries.

“We have reports of substantial damage to a number of structures — and thankfully, as of right now we are not aware of any fatalities,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who declared a state of emergency, said in a statement.

Tornado watches covered more than 16 million people Tuesday evening in a swath from northeastern Louisiana to central Ohio, according to the weather service. Flash flood watches covered an area from West Virginia and Pennsylvania to New York.

A garage in Barnsdall completely collapsed (Andy Dossett / Examiner-Enterprise via USA Today Network)

A garage in Barnsdall completely collapsed (Andy Dossett / Examiner-Enterprise via USA Today Network)

In Kentucky, photos submitted by the Boyd County Emergency Management office indicated “tornadic damage of at least EF1 intensity,” the weather service said on its storm reports website. Two mobile homes were either displaced or rolled.

In Sunbright, Tennessee, Billy Glen Kennedy got a call from a friend after the severe storm moved through the town of around 500.

“He just said, ‘You might want to get into town; your funeral home’s gone,’” Kennedy, the owner of heavily damaged Schubert Funeral Home, told NBC affiliate WBIR of Knoxville. “And I didn’t even know what happened.”

Kennedy said he heard sirens of emergency vehicles driving past his house, which is not unusual. “But I had no idea I’d come up here and find this,” he said.

Multiple rounds of storms were forecast for the Ohio Valley, middle Tennessee and the Southeast on Tuesday. Parts of Kentucky were under a tornado watch until 10 p.m., and Beshear warned residents to remain prepared.

One weather-related injury was reported in Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Linda Gorton said, without providing further details.

Dozens of calls have come in, with the Lexington Fire Department receiving 61 calls for emergency service and two calls for trees crashing into homes, as well as reports of two structure fires caused by downed power lines, the mayor said in a statement Tuesday.

“Three injury collisions” were also reported, as well as seven collisions that did not result in injuries.

Beshear said the weather service has confirmed an EF1 tornado in Nelson County and another EF1 tornado in Anderson County. That strength of tornado has gusts of 86 to 110 mph on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

Tuesday’s possible tornadoes come after severe weather that affected parts of the Midwest on Monday, including severe thunderstorm watches in parts of Indiana and Ohio. A section of U.S. 23 in Columbus, Ohio, was flooded by Tuesday, NBC affiliate WCHM of Columbus reported.

Heavy rain causes flooding near the area of North High St. in Columbus, Ohio, on April 2, 2024. (Doral Chenoweth II / Columbus Dispatch / USA Today Network)Heavy rain causes flooding near the area of North High St. in Columbus, Ohio, on April 2, 2024. (Doral Chenoweth II / Columbus Dispatch / USA Today Network)

Heavy rain causes flooding near the area of North High St. in Columbus, Ohio, on April 2, 2024. (Doral Chenoweth II / Columbus Dispatch / USA Today Network)

In New York City, a travel advisory was in place for Wednesday, with an additional 2 to 3 inches of rain expected, the city’s  Emergency Management Department said. The advisory lasts until Thursday.

The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center said Tuesday on X that late-season heavy snow and gusty winds across the Great Lakes and the Northeast through midweek are expected.

Most of Wisconsin was under either winter storm warnings or winter weather advisories Tuesday. Snow was falling in Green Bay, the weather service office there said, and snowfall rates in the Fox Valley and lake shore areas could be 1 inch per hour at times.

At least four tornadoes were reported Monday in Oklahoma and Missouri.

The city clerk for Barnsdall, Oklahoma, said that several homes were damaged but that there have been no reports of deaths. Because of the weather, public schools were closed Tuesday.

Schools were also closed in parts of Ohio.

In addition to the wind and snow, around 41 million people from Indiana to New Jersey were under flood watches Tuesday.

Two to 3 additional inches of rain fell in the Pittsburgh area Tuesday, the weather service there said, on top of 2 to 4 inches of rain that had already fallen. “Flooding remains a big issue across much of the region,” the weather service office said on social media.

The highest flood threat Tuesday was associated with the severe thunderstorms charging across parts of the Ohio Valley. Rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour could spark flash flooding.

Because of the heavy rain, the Weather Prediction Center issued a notice of slight risk of excessive rainfall over parts of the lower Great Lakes, the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and the central Appalachians through Wednesday morning. The wet weather is likely to create localized flash flooding, with urban areas, roads and small streams being the most vulnerable.

On Wednesday, the mid-Atlantic and Florida were under severe weather risk. That expanded to include 22 million people from Florida to Maryland.

A secondary low-pressure system along the mid-Atlantic coast could bring heavy, wet snow and some sleet to the Northeast on Wednesday afternoon through Friday, the center said.

Upstate New York and northern New England should expect significant snow accumulations that could create hazardous travel because of low visibility and snow-covered roads.

The center also issued a notice of slight risk of severe thunderstorms over the Florida Peninsula from Wednesday into Thursday morning. The storm is expected to bring frequent lightning, severe wind gusts, hail and possible tornadoes, it said.

The springtime storms follow a wet Monday when unconfirmed tornadoes, hail, strong gusts and heavy rain battered parts of the South.

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