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Severe Storms Kill Two, Cause Damage Across Tennessee

Gary Winger/WBIR

Two people were killed and at least six injured when a tornado touched down in Lincoln County on Monday. The same low pressure system that generated that storm also produced storms that caused wind damage and dropped hailstones as large as golf balls over parts of East Tennessee.

An initial wave of severe storms moved across the northern tier of East Tennessee Monday afternoon, downing trees and power lines in Claiborne and Hancock counties. Buildings were damaged on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate. Wind gusts from another storm damaged buildings near Wartburg in Morgan County.

The second wave of storms moved into East Tennessee in the late night hours. Multiple tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings were issued from Chattanooga north to Knoxville, and reports of large hail were common with the more powerful thunderstorms in Monroe, McMinn, Blount, Loudon and Knox counties. Schools in McMinn County were ordered closed today, as officials worried that downed trees would make school commutes dangerous.

Local utilities also felt the brunt of the storms. The Knoxville Utilities Board reported about 2,600 customers lost power overnight, and about 5,000 Lenoir City Utilities Board customers spent part of the night in the dark. Both utilities worked quickly to restore electrical service, and those figures came down significantly by Tuesday morning.

Storms survey teams from the National Weather Service will have to determine how much of the reported damage was caused by tornadoes.

Conditions were worse in Alabama and Mississippi, where a prolonged tornado outbreak spawned twisters that raked through Tupelo and areas near Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. At least eight people died in Mississippi and at least three were killed in Alabama.

More severe storms are in the forecast for Tuesday afternoon and evening. The National Weather Service office in Morristown said large hail and damaging winds will be the primary threats on Tuesday, though a few tornadoes are also possible in East Tennessee. Flash flooding will also be a concern.