High winds, rain, hit South; at least 6 killed

Motorists traveling Interstate 55 south at Fortification Street get pelted by heavy rain from the west as a line severe weather, bringing with it tornado warnings, moves through the metro area in Jackson, Miss, Monday, April 4, 2011.

ATLANTA — At least six people have been killed in the South as fast-moving spring storms packing high winds, hail and lightning blew through the region, uprooting trees and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands including in metro Atlanta.

In Butts County in central Georgia, a father and son were killed when a tree fell onto a home, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lisa Janak said.

Another person was killed in Dodge County, Janak said. Janak didn’t know the circumstances of that death but said there had been a possible tornado there. A death was also reported in Colquitt County, Janak said.

“Damage reports are coming in and I’m sure more will come in when daylight comes,” Janak said early Tuesday.

In Memphis, fire officials said an 87-year-old man found dead in his home Monday was electrocuted by a downed power line.

The Copiah County Emergency Management Agency told The Clarion-Ledger a driver was killed late Monday in southern Mississippi after a falling tree hit his vehicle.

In western Kentucky, seven people working at a plant suffered minor injuries when a possible tornado hit.

Christian County Emergency Management Director Randy Graham said about three dozen people who usually work in the area of the Toyoda Gosei Automotive Sealing Kentucky that was struck by the storm were at the other end of the building for their lunch break when it hit.

“We’re fortunate not to have any serious injuries or death,” he said. The county is seeking a disaster declaration based on the damage at the plant. He said about 120 to 130 people were there when a front wall partially collapsed and a side wall and roof torn out.

More than 125,000 people were without power early Tuesday around the Georgia capital and 147,000 statewide, according to a tweet by Georgia Power.

Strong winds ripped away part of the roof of an elementary school gymnasium in Ashland City, Tenn., but officials said no children were injured.

Winds gusting to about 50 mph blew down trees and power lines across north Alabama before heading to Georgia. The National Weather Service recorded wind gusts up to 49 mph at the Huntsville, Ala., airport.

In DeKalb County east of Atlanta, meteorologists report 1-inch hail and storms packed high winds of 30 to 50 mph in some places Monday. Hundreds of lightning strikes were reported.