Southern storms, apparent tornadoes cause damages; none hurt

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Two apparent tornadoes touched down Saturday in central Arkansas, destroying shops as severe storms raking the South damaged some buildings and tore away roofs in northeast Mississippi.

There were no reports of any deaths or injuries from the widespread storms, which came nearly a week after a large tornado killed 23 people in Alabama amid an outbreak of Southern twisters.

An apparent tornado touched down Saturday afternoon near Carlisle, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Little Rock and the second storm was near the unincorporated community of Slovak, southeast of Carlisle, said National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Goudsward.

Prairie County Sheriff Rick Hickman in Arkansas said several buildings were destroyed, power lines were brought down and at least one home was damaged.

“It was more than straight-line winds. One of the shops, it had debris strewn over two miles, (another) one of them was just twisted in a big twist with metal on top of automobiles that were in there,” Hickman said.

Goudsward, based with the weather service in Little Rock, Arkansas, said teams would be sent to assess the damage and determine the strength of those storms.

In northeast Mississippi, strong winds tore away roofs and pulled down bricks from some buildings in the small community of Walnut, population about 3,000. Emergency Management Director Tom Lindsey, for the region’s Tippah County, said the area that was hit was very rural.

Weather service meteorologist Marlene Mickelson in Memphis, Tennessee, said there were no reports of injuries from the storm in Walnut. But authorities said it was still too early to tell if the damage there was caused by a tornado or by straight-line winds.

A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. The watches issued Saturday for Tennessee and Mississippi were in effect until 6 p.m. EST and for Arkansas and Louisiana until 4 p.m. EST.

The weather service’s Storm Prediction Center also warned of the possibility of damaging winds and large hail and said via Twitter that cities at risk Saturday included Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky, among others. Forecasters said many of the affected areas were also at risk of flooding.