21:48 GMT20 February 2020
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    Severe storms are pounding several states across the Southern and Southeastern US, forcing many residents to seek shelter as tornado warnings have taken effect Thursday.

    Footage shared online showed widespread destruction across parts of Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky.

    ​In Charlotte, North Carolina, a tornado warning was announced Thursday morning. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport ordered people to stay away from windows as the Federal Aviation Administration evacuated the air traffic control tower.

    "There is an active tornado warning in Charlotte right now," Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles tweeted Thursday. “Please be safe, stay inside and stay away from windows. Take shelter if you are outside. Safety of all Charlotteans is our #1 priority."

    In addition, tornado watches were declared for parts of North Carolina, Virginia, central South Carolina and southern North Carolina, according to the US National Weather Service’s (NWS) tornado warning Twitter account. 

    ​More than 20,000 residents from Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle did not have power between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and strong wind and hail moved across the Deep South, AccuWeather reported. According to Weather.com, at least a dozen possible tornadoes have been reported in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.

    Many roads in South Carolina’s Spartanburg and Greenville counties were flooded after continuous rainfall overnight, as were several streets in Knoxville, Tennessee.

    ​"Ample moisture from the Gulf of Mexico fueled these storms, causing flash flooding to occur in many spots due to heavy rainfall," AccuWeather Meteorologist Isaac Longley is quoted as saying. "In addition to flooding, many storms produced damaging wind gusts and even a few possible tornadoes, which brought down trees and resulted in structural damage across the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee." 

    ​Several school districts across Alabama have canceled classes Thursday. In Kentucky, states of emergency were announced in Bell and Harlan counties, and more than a dozen people sought refuge in the Harlan Baptist Church after being evacuated from their flooded homes.

    ​The NWS on Thursday also confirmed one storm-related death in Marengo County, Alabama. Although details are scarce, the victim is believed to have been killed during a thunderstorm as high winds hit mobile homes near Demopolis. The Associated Press has also reported that one person was injured at a hotel construction site in New Orleans, Louisiana, as strong winds struck down scaffolding at the site.

    According to Longley, some parts of the South and up into Maryland could experience between 3 and 5 inches of rain into Friday.

    Additionally, a storm has brought rain, freezing rain and sleet to parts of New York and New England, and is expected to become a snowstorm before Friday, according to Longley. Some parts of New York and New England could see up to 3 inches of snow every hour.

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