Winds topple trees across the county

Published 11:44 am Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thunderstorms and gusty winds are expected to continue in Vicksburg, Warren County and across the region tonight and Wednesday, hours after residents and work crews cleaned up from this morning’s storm.

Downed trees and power lines knocked out power and blocked traffic on several city and county roads. Reports of fallen trees came from U.S. 80, Mississippi 27, Sherman Avenue, McAuley Drive and Lee, Oak Ridge, Tiffintown and Porters Chapel roads.

Trash cans blew over and debris, branches and leaves littered Drummond and other city streets in the aftermath of winds that gusted to 50 mph.

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“Between 4 and 8 a.m., our deputies responded to 38 calls about trees down and blocking all or part of a road,” said Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace.

Entergy spokesman Don Arnold said 3,000 customers were without power.

Four utility poles were down in the Halls Ferry-Lee Road area, Arnold said. Work crews were being pulled in from other areas, but it was expected to be early evening before power is restored to all customers, he said.

No injuries or structural damage were reported, said Pace. The most significant traffic backups resulting from downed trees and poles were on Lee Road, where a fallen tree took out power lines and two poles, and on Sherman Avenue. A driver on Glass Road struck a tree but was not injured, he said.

Other reports of trees and power poles down came in from Gowall, Grange Hall, Jeffers Hollow, Warriors Trail, Birdsong, Cain Ridge and Halls Ferry roads; Woodstock, Laredo and Chapel Hills at Lakewood drives; Grammar Street; and Lovers Lane.

A downed power line reportedly sparked on Dabney Avenue near Oak Street, and city power outages included commercial and residential areas around Clay Street and Mission 66, said city emergency management director Anna Booth.

The National Weather Service was forecasting a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms tonight with winds from the south from 15 to 25 mph. From a high near 87 today, tonight’s low will be around 70 degrees. Significant amounts of rainfall were not expected.

Showers and thunderstorms are likely to continue Wednesday, the NWS forecasted, with a south wind 20 to 25 mph and a 60 percent chance of rain. The high will be near 84, with a low around 51.

The weather will clear Wednesday night into Thursday, which is forecast to be sunny, with a high near 75 and north northwest wind between 5 and 10 mph.

Regionally, Alabama faces the thread of supercell thunderstorms capable of spawning long-lasting tornadoes. National Weather Service forecasters say the threat of tornadoes will be greatest on Wednesday, although storms today also hold the potential for twisters.

Severe storms that began early last week have hammered a swath of the nation’s midsection without letup. Again Monday, powerful storms ravaged Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas, Tennessee and other states.

Authorities said at least seven people were killed in Arkansas — three of them when floodwaters swept two vehicles off roadways and four when a likely twister tore through the small town of Vilonia.

The storm system was expected to move into Illinois and Wisconsin today, said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. At the same time, a second storm system will start along the same path, meaning several more days of rain. That system will continue east through Thursday, he said.

Governors in both Arkansas and Kentucky declared states of emergency. In Kentucky, historic flooding is expected over the next few days, partly because of a double-whammy — both the Ohio and Mississippi rivers significantly above flood stage. Several dozen residents were evacuated near the confluence of the rivers at Cairo, Ill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.