Dozens of twisters tore through several American states after record-high temperatures fueled a massive storm system
At least two people were killed and many more injured after a series of tornadoes struck America's Deep South. The severe weather also devastated homes and businesses, downed trees and left thousands of residents without electricity.
A 39-year-old woman and her 8-year-old son lost their lives after a twister struck Flatwood, Alabama early Wednesday morning, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, which did not identify the victims. The boy's father was also injured and taken to hospital for treatment.
The tornado in Flatwood came amid a major bout of inclement weather across multiple southern states between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, which prompted a total of 73 tornado warnings and 120 severe thunderstorm warnings, Matthew Elliott, a meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma, told the Associated Press. At least 35 tornadoes were reported to have touched down, according to AccuWeather.
Twisters were also spotted in Mississippi and Louisiana, with photos purporting to show the aftermath circulating on social media, including images of flattened homes and other wreckage.
While tornadoes also struck Mississippi's Choctaw and Lowndes counties on Tuesday, leaving homes and a local fire station in ruins, no serious injuries were reported in either location, according to county officials.
Residents in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana were not as fortunate, however, as local officials reported that at least two people were severely injured in addition to major damage to homes and other structures. Models created by meteorologist Craig Ceecee suggest debris was thrown some 15,000 feet into the air during the cyclone.
Power was also knocked out in some towns, with more than 50,000 residents in Mississippi and Alabama left without electricity at one point on Wednesday afternoon, according to the tracking website poweroutage.us. It appears repairs were completed quickly in many areas, however, as just 3,500 customers remained without power across both states as of Wednesday night.
The fierce weather system originated over Texas earlier this week and gained in intensity as it moved eastward, largely thanks to abnormally high temperatures in the region. When colliding with a cold front, warmer air can produce powerful wind currents that result in severe thunderstorms and, in some cases, tornadoes.