A massive storm system that spread its wrath across much of the U.S. this week left a trail of damage across several states, spawning almost 500 reports of severe weather.
What started as a snow event in the Rockies turned into severe thunderstorms as the system moved into the Plains late Tuesday. An EF-3 tornado touched down in Springdale, Arkansas, Wednesday morning, injuring seven people -- two seriously.
The storm line intensified further as it approached the Mississippi River, stretching over 1,300 miles across at one point. As the thunder roared and wind raged, several hundred reports of storm damage from 50-65 mph gusts flowed into National Weather Service offices, touching every corner of Mississippi and stretching into Tennessee, Kentucky and even southern Illinois and Indiana.
Most spotters reported downed trees and power lines, but some structural damage was seen in harder-hit towns like Jackson, Tennessee, where a nursing home and hospital suffered wind damage. Meanwhile, tornadoes were spotted in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.
Two people were killed when a tornado struck a home in Chipley, Florida.
"When they called me, I just went into tears," said Donna Bratcher, who lives in the neighborhood that was struck by the tornado. "It's heartbreaking. We have neighbors that are dead."
A family in Jackson, Mississippi, narrowly escaped injury when an apparent tornado swept through.
"We heard the thundering and stuff, and my 6-year-old grandson was in the kitchen, and I just heard a big boom," Eunessa Hampton told FOX Weather. "I immediately ran with him as he was screaming into the closet for shelter. After everything kind of calmed down and I came out, that’s when I realized the tree had actually fallen into the house. It pushed in two walls… the center fell in in the kitchen; water is everywhere."
Over 250,000 people were without power early Thursday morning, though most of the outages were restored by Thursday evening.
The National Weather Service is investigating 19 potential tornadoes from the outbreak so far. Another 347 storm reports were for wind damage.
Overall, 485 storm reports were filed with the National Weather Service from Tuesday evening through 6 p.m. Thursday CDT. NWS had issued 81 tornado warnings and 190 severe thunderstorm warnings since midday Tuesday.
The storm system was bringing its last gasp to the I-95 corridor Thursday evening, with severe thunderstorms possible into Thursday night. Calmer weather was forecast across the battered region for Friday as we move into April.
It'll be a welcome end to March for much of the weary nation, as it's been part of a hectic month for severe weather.
So far in March, 223 tornadoes were reported compared to the average 91 tornadoes, making this March was one of the most active in decades for severe weather.