Tornadoes tear through the southern United States

Severe storms swept through the southern United States on Sunday night into Monday morning, leaving a path of destruction in their wake and at least 12 people dead.

Images on local media showed the devastation left behind by the tornadoes – destroyed homes, downed power lines, twisted billboards and overturned cars.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said 34 tornadoes were believed to have touched down across the region.

Two long-track tornadoes followed similar paths across parts of the state of Mississippi and were on the ground for more than 160km (100 miles). reported more than 580,000 homes and businesses were without power in eight states as of midnight on Sunday.

Texas, Arkansas, Alabama and Kentucky were the worst-hit with winds of up to 90km per hour (56 mph), causing outages in many areas not affected by tornadoes.

Earlier on Sunday, damaging storms and possible tornadoes destroyed homes and businesses in Louisiana, uprooting trees and downing power lines across several areas of the state.

About 300 homes were damaged or destroyed in Monroe, Louisiana.
Coronavirus effect

Physical distancing measures posed challenges for emergency officials as they opened shelters during the storm and considered where to house those affected afterwards.

Monroe city officials secured about 200 hotel rooms to shelter families who were displaced, trying to avoid housing large numbers of people in one place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The NWS warned severe thunderstorms capable of tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and hail are possible on Monday from southeast Georgia, the eastern Carolinas, and into the Mid-Atlantic.

More than 55 million people remain under severe wind warnings as the storms continue to move east.

Flash flooding is also expected throughout southern states, with as much as 200 millimetres (8 inches) of rain forecast.

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