Potent thunderstorms have been blamed for one death and left hundreds of thousands of people without power across the southern US — and fierce winds walloped parts of several states as new storms formed Thursday, the AP reports. Fallen trees ripped down power lines and crashed into buildings along a line from Texas to Alabama overnight and into Thursday morning, the national Storm Prediction Center reported. Similar damage occurred later in the day in parts of Georgia, the Carolinas, and southeast Virginia. Straight-line winds of up to 85 mph had damaged roofs Wednesday in the northeast Texas city of Greenville, the National Weather Service reported Thursday. Local officials had initially suspected a tornado. In Mississippi, Jackson Salter, 19, died when a tree fell on his home.
A wind gust of 79 mph was recorded in Columbia, South Carolina as heavy winds knocked down trees, including some that landed on houses in North Carolina, and some that landed in the middle of Interstate 20 in South Carolina. Utilities reported more than 200,000 customers without power Thursday evening across Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. More than 50,000 remained without power in Arkansas long after storms exited. Downburst winds — strong winds that descend from a thunderstorms and spread out when they hit the ground — appeared to be the greatest threat, said Dan Miller, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Columbia, South Carolina. Such winds hold the potential for serious damage, he said.
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