Others closely watched rivers swollen by torrential rains, and officials opened flood gates to ease pressure on dams in Maryland. Hundreds were evacuated to higher ground. In Anne Arundel County, one person apparently drowned in a flooded camp where homeless people live in tents, said police Lt. T.J. Smith.
Ernest Moran said he lives at the site with about 15 other people. He awakened Thursday morning to find "a swamp," he said, and escaped with only his dog and a knapsack.
Near the nation's capital, at least one motorist had to be rescued because of flash floods. In New England, powerful winds were the main problem as gusts topping 60 mph in some areas caused widespread power outages.
The tornadoes Tuesday and Wednesday broke the nation's longest break between tornado fatalities since detailed records began being kept in 1950, according to the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center. The last one was June 24 in Florida. That was 220 days ago as of Tuesday.Winter tornadoes are not unheard of: In January 2012, at least two tornadoes ripped across Alabama, killing two people and wiping out scores of homes and businesses. Warm air from the Gulf of Mexico can collide with cold air inland, creating the sort of instability that spawned this week's tornadoes. National Weather Service meteorologist George Wetzel said the storm that tore through Adairsville was a high EF3 in strength, creating winds of more than 100 miles per hour. An EF5 is the strongest tornado category. The storm traveled 25 miles across Bartow and Gordon counties, and it is not yet clear how long it took for the storm to travel through the area, Wetzel said. By Thursday, the focus in Adairsville had turned to cleanup and rebuilding. Metal siding and fiberglass insulation dangled from trees; Christmas ornaments and knickknacks were strewn across lawns, the homes that had housed them no longer standing.