Houston Chronicle Sunday
Storms hit Southern states, damage buildings in Florida
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — A cluster of severe storms swept across Southern states early Saturday, leaving at least one dead in Louisiana, bringing down trees and power lines in Mississippi, dropping large hail on a coastal Alabama city and leveling buildings in the Florida Panhandle.
St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard confirmed a fatality related to an early morning tornado in Palmetto, La. Bellard told KLFYTV that Jose Antonio Higareda, 27, was killed when the tornado struck his home. In addition, he said, seven people were transported with injuries to local hospitals.
In Mississippi, a possible tornado ripped down power lines and trees in Rankin County, but no injuries were reported.
In Panama City Beach, Fla., a home and convenience store were leveled by a possible tornado, city officials said in a Facebook post. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The town is in Bay County, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018.
“Many people were saying, ‘Hey, we know what to do. Sadly, we’ve been through it before’ and they pulled together as a community,” Panama City Mayor Mark Sheldon said. “We were seeing neighbors come out and helping other neighbors and that’s what Panama City Beach is all about.”
In Pensacola, Fla., the roof of a downtown brewery was ripped off by the storm, local news reports show. The National Weather Service has not confirmed if that was caused by a tornado, but reported winds of up to 60 mph. The Pensacola News Journal reports that about 5 inches of rain fell.
Images shared by news outlets showed car windshields shattered by hail about as large as baseballs in Orange Beach, Ala.
The National Weather Service has said the tornado that hit in Louisiana was ranked an EF3 tornado, with wind speeds between 130 and 140 mph.
Some flooding was reported. Thousands in the region lost power.