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Storm front causes damage in Louisiana, Mississippi

December 28, 2018
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An East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's deputy speaks with a stranded motorist on Groom Road near Leland Avenue before pulling the woman to safety, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, as severe weather impacts the area in Baker, La. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Damaging winds were followed by drenching rains across much of Louisiana and Mississippi on Thursday, prompting flooding concerns that threatened to move east along with a storm front.

A Louisiana woman died when a tree fell through her camper late Wednesday, and nightfall Thursday brought calls in southern Mississippi to flee rising creeks.

The National Weather Service confirmed one tornado in southwest Louisiana, and is investigating two other possible twisters. Wind damage was reported in seven Louisiana parishes and seven Mississippi counties

Officials blocked off numerous roads, including some major highways, and rescued motorists who got stalled in deep water.

Weather Service radar estimated that more than 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain fell in parts of Louisiana’s Washington Parish, north of New Orleans, while a broad swath of both states got more than 5 inches (13 centimeters). Local governments handed out sandbags in the Baton Rouge area. Forecasters declared a flash flood emergency in parts of southern Mississippi, including Hattiesburg, Thursday evening, saying waters were life-threatening and that people should leave low-lying areas and avoid non-emergency travel.

Flash flooding also became a concern in southwest Alabama as rain moved eastward. A number of rivers in the region are predicted to rise above flood stage in the coming days.

Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s deputies found 58-year-old Roxanne Kliebert dead when they arrived Wednesday night after a pine tree fell through the roof of her camper in the Louisiana town of Ponchatoula.

The Weather Service confirmed that a tornado with top winds of 105 mph (169 kph) briefly touched down south of Crowley in Acadia Parish. Possible tornadoes hit Franklin Parish in northeast Louisiana and Yazoo County in central Mississippi.

Mercill Linder, a resident of the Franklin Parish town of Crowville, told KNOE-TV that a tree fell on her porch and roof around 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

“I could tell that this was not a normal wind,” Linder said. “It was coming from one direction and then another direction and I felt like I was in a washing machine.”

In the Mississippi city of Vicksburg, heavy winds damaged the roof on the city’s water treatment plant. There were also reports of damage to a number of other buildings in Vicksburg and nearby areas.

There’s a marginal chance of tornadoes Friday in a band stretching from the central Gulf Coast to southeast Virginia, forecasters said.

High winds were predicted Thursday evening and Friday morning across parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and West Virginia.

The same system produced numerous reports of trees down and power outages across Texas and Arkansas late Wednesday and early Thursday.

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Follow Jeff Amy at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.

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