SHUQUALAK, Miss. (AP) - A powerful spring storm unleashed tornadoes, hail and high winds as it swept through the Midwest into the Deep South, leaving three people dead and thousands without power before heading for the Carolinas early Friday.
The storm marched from Louisiana to Georgia on Thursday, killing one person in Mississippi, where a twister was spotted. A tornado also was reported in southeastern Tennessee, prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency.
While tornado watches for the Atlanta area had been lifted by early Friday, they remained in effect for parts of the Carolinas.
In Georgia, the world's best golfers were keeping a wary eye on the storms as they prepared to play in the second day of the Masters at Augusta National. The weather was warm and sunny on the first day of the four-day tournament, but severe storms were forecast overnight, and golf- and baseball-sized hail were reported in northeast Georgia and western parts of the Carolinas.
As the system moved through the Southeast, high winds knocked over trees and power lines in rural west Alabama and eastern Mississippi. About 50 school systems in central and north Alabama sent students home early, and a few government offices and businesses also closed early.
In Mississippi, Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said Thursday that one person died and several people were injured after a reported tornado struck Kemper County in the far-eastern part of the state.
At Contract Fabricators Inc. in Kemper County, bent pieces of tin hung from the heavily damaged building. A tractor-trailer was twisted and overturned, and debris from the business was strewn through the woods across the street.
Tabatha Lott, a dispatcher in Mississippi's Noxubee County, said there were numerous injuries reported in the town of Shuqualak, as well as reports of damaged buildings and power outages.
Derek Cody, an amateur storm chaser who works at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, just south of Shuqualak (pronounced SHUG-a-lock), told The Associated Press he drove north to the small town to try to catch a glimpse of a tornado there.