Quad-State Tornado rips through US

Image copyright Weather Channel Image caption The storm battered the south-central US state of Georgia

A rare “Quad-State Tornado” raked across the southern US on Wednesday, killing at least four people and leaving 21 people missing.

The twister on December 4 lasted for 40 minutes, crossing four states, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Experts had never previously seen such a storm in the month of December.

Elsewhere, heavy flooding caused chaos for residents and farmers in Ohio and Michigan.

The tornado, rated a very rare EF-3, razed a small town in Georgia’s extreme north-west.

The NWS has twice upgraded the intensity rating of the twister after it was spotted. The EF-3 tornado is the second highest risk. A tornado is said to be highly destructive with an estimated rating of EF-4 if it hits 85mph (140km/h).

Image copyright Weather Channel Image caption It hit a farming community, Holly Springs, where four people were killed

Holly Springs mayor Sam Jones said there were “quite a few” missing after the main building at the front of the city collapsed after being struck. The storm hit at about 1600 (1900 GMT).

John Duncan, a tornado expert with the National Weather Service, told the Weather Channel that it was a “once in a lifetime” occurrence.

“We’re never going to see something like this, not that we’re aware of, in December,” he said.

Meanwhile, strong winds snapped trees in the state of Michigan, sending some crashing into houses. The storm hit just after 1pm (1300 GMT).

Image copyright PA Image caption A tornado knocked down trees and tore roofs off houses in western Michigan

Several roads in western Michigan were closed because of downed trees, while at least one man died when a tree fell on his vehicle in the town of Lebanon. The storm knocked down a tree that crushed a house and killed the family inside, according to broadcaster WOOD.

Eight homes were damaged in Toledo, Ohio, where winds reached 60mph (97km/h), according to local media.

And in Tennessee, a residential area of Chattooga County was evacuated and all roads were closed after a tornado touched down.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption There were also reports of serious flooding in Ohio

The worst of the weather, however, was inland in Michigan, with floods causing havoc in communities across the state.

Away from the storms, record rainfall poured in parts of Ohio, closing major highways and forcing the closure of dams, including one on the Little Miami River.

In western Ohio, one 30ft-wide (9m) oak tree fell on the roof of a house, leaving a hole more than the diameter of a double decker bus.

A woman was killed when a tree fell onto her car in an accident in northwest Ohio.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A major highway was closed after it was flooded by heavy rain in northwest Ohio

More than 29 inches (71cm) of rain had fallen in Crawford County by midday, according to local weather information provider AccuWeather.

It was in the town of Peebles, just west of Dayton, that flood waters rose to more than 1ft (30cm) per hour.

Rocks fell off the high embankment protecting a dam on the Little Miami River.

In nearby Cortland, an inmate swimming on the Ohio River was swept away by the river, killing himself.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Record rainfall was reported in Ohio

Rivers had reached record highs across the state, with one measuring more than 31ft (10.5m) at Adams Point in the state’s northwest.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption In New Hampshire, officials scrambled to divert water away from the state’s extensive hydroelectric dams

In New Hampshire, officials scrambled to divert water away from the state’s extensive hydroelectric dams.

In Colorado, about 200,000 acres (82,000 hectares) have been burned by recent wildfires, affecting 800,000 acres (330,000 hectares).

The US National Weather Service (NWS) said the flooding would continue to worsen.

Image copyright Mark Wagner/Scott Simmons/Tom Hogan Image caption Record flooding has hit Colorado in recent weeks

The NWS issued a tornado watch for the western and central parts of the state.

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