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Severe storms, large hail pummel parts of South

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POSTED March 18, 2013 10:11 p.m.

 

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Severe thunderstorms Monday raked across a wide area of the South, packing strong winds, rain and some baseball-size hail.

In Mississippi, authorities reported two people were hit on the head by large hail as the enormous storm front crossed the region. Fire official Tim Shanks said baseball-sized hail smashed windows in several vehicles in Clinton, where the two people were hit. He had no immediate word on their condition.

National Weather Service meteorologist Anna Weber said there were reports of hail the size of softballs in some areas around Jackson. Baseball-sized hail was reported in Jackson and its suburbs, including the cities of Jackson, Clinton, Madison, Pearl and Brandon.

"This is the time of year that we get hail storms, but hail this size is pretty rare," Weber said.

Emergency officials said there were reports of homes damaged in at least five Mississippi counties.

Meteorologists issued tornado warnings for parts of northwest Georgia and severe thunderstorm warnings around the state.

Flights were delayed by more than an hour Monday afternoon at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport after officials there ordered a ground stop, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Elsewhere, Alabama Power officials said 198,000 customers were without power as of 5 p.m.

In Tennessee, heavy rain helped firefighters contain a wildfire that burned nearly 60 rental cabins in a resort area outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The fire forced up to 200 people who had been staying in cabins in the area to evacuate.

Fire officials had worried earlier that wind-whipped flames might jump a ridgeline and threaten Pigeon Forge, a popular tourism destination that's home to country star Dolly Parton's amusement park, Dollywood.

 

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