A line of severe storms in central Louisiana spawned tornadoes that touched down in three areas Monday, downing power lines, toppling trees and damaging buildings, officials said.
Hundreds of miles away, the same storm system brought more rain to waterlogged Kentucky as highway crews struggled to reopen scores of roads closed almost a week ago by the worst flooding to hit the state in a decade.
In Louisiana, tornadoes hit Alexandria and Pineville in Rapides Parish and Jonesville in Catahoula Parish, but no serious injuries were reported.
“Tornadoes hit in about seven different locations here in Rapides Parish,” said Bill Godron, the local Civil Defense director. “We’ve also had a great deal of flooding throughout the entire area. We’ve had to evacuate some people to shelters and we had to close one of the shelters because it was flooding.”
He was unable to say how many people were forced from their homes, but at least one mobile home was demolished.
“We’ve had trees down, power lines down and so forth all over our town,” Alexandria police Sgt. J. W. Ferrier said. “We’ve had high winds all over town, various sections of the town.”
A police dispatcher said that homes, cars and trees were damaged.
Up to half an inch of rain fell on western Kentucky by noon Monday, and the National Weather Service posted a flash-flood watch for the entire state. Forecasters said two to three inches of rain would fall in most areas by dawn today, swamping ground that already was saturated with water.
Rivers in western Kentucky posed the greatest problems because water from the swollen Ohio River could back into tributaries and cause them to flood, officials said.
“The Kentucky and Licking rivers could take that precipitation and not get back to flood stage, but the Salt and Green rivers are still up in some places and are back up from the Ohio River,” said Mike Murphy, a hydrologic technician at the weather service office in Louisville.
Parts of Kentucky received more than 10 inches of rain last week, causing the worst flooding since December, 1978. At least four deaths in Kentucky and one in neighboring Tennessee were blamed on the weather.
National Guard troops Monday used a helicopter to tote a massive pump to the streets of Lebanon Junction, 30 miles south of Louisville, and work crews reopened a 100-mile stretch of the Western Kentucky Parkway that had been closed because of high water since last Wednesday. More than 100 other roads still were impassable.
Schools in Lebanon Junction and the nearby cities of Boston and West Point, Ky., remained closed Monday.
In western Tennessee, about 130 people were still unable to return to their homes in Obion County, where nearly 400 were displaced last week, said Cecil Whaley, an operations officer for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
He said the Obion River was beginning to recede but that another inch or so of rain could send the water back into evacuated houses and could cause flooding in some previously untouched places as well.
Heavy rain was scattered over parts of western Tennessee during the afternoon.
Along the Cumberland River in central Tennessee, people who evacuated their homes last week probably would not be seriously affected by additional rain, Whaley said.
“In those places, an inch or two might not be too bad in their situations,” he said. “It takes about 30 to 40 hours after the rain hits for them to feel the effects on the Cumberland. If it only lasts 24 hours . . . it may not be too bad of an effect on them.”
Kentucky’s latest deluge and the tornadoes in Louisiana resulted from a new storm system that developed over the southern plains, drawing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and rapidly spreading it across much of the nation’s interior.
Rain reached from Texas to South Carolina and Kentucky. Snow spread from Colorado into Michigan, and the storm system brought five inches of snow to Quincy, Ill., and four inches to Hardin, Ill. Omaha, Idaho Falls, Ida., and Knob Noster, Mo., reported two inches of snow.