Tornadoes, storms kill 2 in Louisiana, Mississippi before moving east
A damaging storm system that spun off multiple tornadoes in Louisiana and Mississippi was blamed for at least two deaths as it moved through the South, with more twisters likely to come Wednesday along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
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The victims were killed as high winds swept through Convent, Louisiana, and a rural area outside Purvis, Mississippi, authorities told NBC News.
The National Weather Service said a tornado touched down Tuesday near the Sugar Hill RV Park northwest of the town of Convent. St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin confirmed that one person was killed.
A second person was killed in Lamar County, Mississippi, Sheriff Danny Rigel told NBC News. The National Weather Service said radar indicated a possible tornado at the scene, where a mobile home was destroyed.
See photos of the storm:
Six tornadoes were confirmed across Louisiana by 7 p.m. ET, according to the National Weather Service, along with one each in Mississippi and Alabama.
More than 23,000 customers remained without power across Louisiana at 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET), Louisiana's seven electric utilities reported. The state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness activated its crisis action team to coordinate responses to storm damage.
Assumption Parish Sheriff's Deputy Robert Martin told NBC News that one person was reported injured amid moderate to severe damage from a tornado, which destroyed a parish water tower. The parish emergency management agency issued a parish-wide notice for residents to boil their water as a safety measure.
"It was just raining like a regular day, and then we heard, like, a whistle, like a train, and that's when everything started," said Kenneth Rodrigue of Belle Rose in Assumption Parish.
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"It blew out a couple of big windows on my mom's house. Lots of roofs came off of people's houses," Rodrigue told NBC News. "It's bad. Real bad."
Kenner officials report damage from apparent tornado https://t.co/cMjBojAFk4pic.twitter.com/86LmvBs2VE
— wdsu (@wdsu) February 23, 2016
No injuries were reported in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, where a tornado damaged a few cars in a lot west of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, according to the National Weather Service. No flights were directly affected, but the airport said Tuesday afternoon that some delays and cancellations were possible because of the bad weather in general.
In Ascension Parish, Louisiana, at least eight homes and businesses were damaged, said Meredith Conger, a planning officer with the parish's emergency management agency.
In addition to the five confirmed tornadoes, the National Weather Service was reviewing reports of three others, and government offices in 15 parishes closed early to get people home before the dangerous weather hit, Louisiana Administration Commissioner Jay Dardenne said.
The weather system is expected to move east into the Carolinas down to Florida on Wednesday, with the possibility of more tornadoes, forecasters said.
"This is one of the better tornado setups that we've had in this part of the country for a while," said Ari Sarsalari, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.
In Atlanta, the South's biggest city, and areas north, "ingredients continue to be coming together for a potentially significant severe weather event," including isolated tornadoes, overnight into Wednesday, the National Weather Service said Tuesday evening.
Thunderstorms with the potential for large hail and tornadoes were expected Tuesday night in eastern Alabama, the National Weather Service said, while the Florida Panhandle area around Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, was under a tornado watch until 11 p.m. ET.
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