April 5, 2017 / 11:38 AM / 8 months ago

Tornadoes, strong storms lash U.S. South, Midwest

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Severe storms unleashed powerful winds, large hail and heavy downpours on Wednesday in the U.S. Southeast and parts of the Midwest, where several damaging tornadoes reportedly touched down and two people were injured, forecasters said.

Ten tornadoes swept through parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Indiana, leaving behind damaged homes and businesses and downed trees and powerlines, according to spotter reports on the National Weather Service website.

A child was injured when a tree fell on a house near Florence, South Carolina, Weather.com. reported.

The storm front also brought baseball- and golf ball-size hail that shattered windows and dented vehicles throughout Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee, according to social media.

In Sumter County, Georgia, around 145 miles (230 km) south of Atlanta, three homes were damaged but reports of a massive tornado were inaccurate, said Nigel Poole, the county’s emergency management director.

“We got lucky, we were pretty fortunate,” Poole said by telephone.

Winds of up to 70 miles per hour (110 kph) downed trees and power lines across the region. One person was injured in Tennessee when a mobile home was destroyed, Weather.com reported.

The 5.7 million people who live in and around Atlanta experienced the second wettest April day on record as 4.27 inches (11 cm) of rain fell in the metro area, AccuWeather said on Twitter.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, slowing the flow of inbound flights, but lifted the measure on Wednesday afternoon.

However, the administration reported delays there and at other airports, including Chicago’s O‘Hare International.

The fan-favorite par-3 tournament at the U.S. Masters, golf’s first major of the season, was canceled along with the last practice round in eastern Georgia due to the storm forecast.

Dozens of school districts in Alabama and Georgia canceled classes, while Alabama Governor Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm front.

A fire department building and elementary school in the town of Goodman, Missouri, some 300 miles (480 km) southwest of St. Louis, were extensively damaged when a tornado touched down on Tuesday night.

The storm caused one minor injury, a city official said.

Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Editing by James Dalgleish and Richard Chang

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