Devastating storms kill 6 in Southeast
Seven months after the "Super Dixie Outbreak" of deadly tornadoes that ravaged the Southeast, residents of the region on Thursday were reeling once again from storm-related death and destruction, as severe weather the day before resulted in at least six deaths, numerous injuries and as-yet-undetermined toll of destruction.
Three people were killed by tornadoes in York County, S.C., part of the Charlotte, N.C., metropolitan area. Two more, including a child, were killed in Davidson County, N.C., according to the Charlotte Observer, which reported that rescue crews were using thermal imaging equipment in their search for other victims.
In north Georgia, the Associated Press reported, a man was killed by a falling tree.
AccuWeather.com reported that 23 tornadoes were sighted across the South, though some of those could have been multiple sightings of the same twister. In Shady Grove, Miss., a tornado cut a 12-mile path, injuring 15 people. Another possible tornado moved 27 miles through the Auburn, Ala., area, but Auburn University was reportedly spared any damage.
Wednesday's troubles came toward the end of what meteorologists consider the Southeast's secondary tornado season, when the frequency of twisters jumps between October and November.
The primary season, in which tornado frequency is even higher, occurs from late March through May, according to AccuWeather.
The "Super Dixie Outbreak" in April was one of the deadliest in recorded American history, with 287 reported tornadoes in 24 hours, and 354 deaths.
The pictures painted in local newspapers Thursday morning will feel depressingly familiar to residents still rebuilding from the springtime storms. The Lexington (N.C.) Dispatch told the story of Davidson County residents Keith and Cheryl Smith, who survived but saw their home of 41 years destroyed:
"We were sitting in the den," Keith Smith told the paper. "My wife was standing folding clothes. ... She said, 'Is that rain?' And I looked out. I said, 'No, it's a tornado, run. When I said that, it hit. You couldn't hear anything. It was like a roar you can't explain. In a matter of seconds, she opened up the basement door. I don't know if it triggered anything or not, but when she did, then all windows blew out and the back door flew out. It blew her into the hall three steps up.
"I know this sounds like a fairy tale, but when it did that, it picked me up," he added. "I gravitated, and it moved me to the front of house and sat me down. We were in two bubbles and it was within 10 seconds and it was gone. ... I knew what it was. When I looked out, it was coming across the field. It hit here that fast."
-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta
Photo: Storm damage and debris line the property of a house on Highway 324 near Williamson Road that was damaged by a tornado on Wednesday near Rock Hill, S.C. Credit: Melissa Cherry / The Herald / Associated Press