Thunderstorms kill 18 in US; Georgia, Florida brace for tornado outbreak

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declares emergency for seven counties in the south-central part of the state.

Storms kill 18 people in Georgia
Debris covers an area of the Sunshine Acres neighborhood after a tornado struck Adel, Georgia Reuters

Thunderstorms and tornadoes battered the US South over the weekend, killing at least 18 people in several states. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared an emergency for seven counties in the south-central part of the state. Residents were informed that weather conditions were extremely dangerous and they could reach north to the Atlanta area. "I urge all Georgians to exercise caution and vigilance in order to remain safe and prevent further loss of life or injuries," Deal said, Reuters reported.

While 14 people were killed in Cook, Brooks, Dougherty and Berrien counties in Georgia, another four people were killed in Mississippi on 21 January. Moreover, many more storms and a "tornado outbreak" are expected in northern Florida and southern Georgia, the National Weather Service says, according to BBC.

It was also reported that most of the deaths occurred in Cook County after a mobile home park was struck by a tornado. Cook County coroner Tim Purvis said that several homes in the park, near the city of Adel, were completely destroyed by the powerful winds. Rescue teams are still carrying out relief operations in the area. Several people are also taking shelter the First Baptist Church Adel, which is located in the county seat near the Florida-Georgia state line.

In Mississippi, people died after wind with speed of 218 km/h lashed the area. According to state officials, more than 50 others were injured and about 480 homes were damaged. Powerful storms toppled trees and power lines in Georgia, northern Florida and Alabama on Sunday. Hail was also sighted in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi and several households faced power cuts.

Southern California on the west coast faced heavy rains from another separate weather system, reported Reuters.