Apparent tornadoes that dropped out of the night sky killed five people in two states and injured at least a dozen more early today, adding to a seemingly biblical onslaught of drought, flood and fire plaguing the South.
The storms tore through just as firefighters began to get control of wildfires that killed four and wiped out more than 150 homes and businesses around the resort town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
In Alabama, the weather system dumped more than 2 inches of rain in areas that had been parched by months of choking drought.
High winds damaged homes, splintered barns and toppled trees in parts of Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.
Tombstones were even knocked over in the cemetery behind the badly damaged Rosalie Baptist Church, near where three people died in northeastern Alabama.
The National Weather Service was assessing damage from multiple possible tornadoes across the region.
A twister was confirmed on the ground a few miles from Atlanta today, but there were no immediate damage reports as the vast storm system sent sheets of rain across that city.
Three people were killed and one person critically injured in a mobile home after an apparent twister hit tiny Rosalie, about 115 miles northeast of Birmingham, said Jackson County Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen.
A suspected tornado was responsible for the death of a husband and wife in southern Tennessee's Polk County, while an unknown number of others were injured, said Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dean Flener.
Daybreak revealed mangled sheets of metal, insulation and a ladder hanging in trees.
Meanwhile, thousands of people were without power, including up to 45,000 homes at one point in Alabama.
Many schools dismissed early in Alabama and Georgia to avoid having students on the road in buses as storms continued to roll across the region Wednesday.
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