Image copyright AFP Image caption The tornado that struck Tullahoma had winds of up to more than 180mph
Tennessee has been hit by a series of tornadoes that killed at least three people and destroyed dozens of homes and businesses, the US National Weather Service (NWS) has said.
The NWS said these were a “new normal” for much of the US after years of drought left soils too tinder dry for severe storms.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol said a tornado had killed a father and daughter at a house in the town of Tullahoma.
Eight people were injured and a hospital was treating 41 patients, it said.
Talladega, in the western part of the state, had 12 deaths, according to local officials.
View from Choctaw County, “no one there right now,” on Twitter
An eight-mile-wide tornado ripped through Choctaw County, damaging at least eight homes and damaging the county courthouse, home of the county clerk.
The courthouse is being used as a shelter.
Police have closed roads in the county.
Image copyright nhwg Image caption Buildings and trees were smashed in Tullahoma
Additional damage from tornadoes has been reported in three other counties near the border with Alabama, the NWS said.
Roads were blocked because of fallen trees and power lines.
The federal government has declared the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency’s request for federal assistance for those affected.
Dipali Dutta’s hospital in Owsley is coping with ‘a lot of damage’
The tornadoes were brought about by the tailwinds of a large cold front, NWS meteorologist Stefanie Johnson told CNN.
“We have had major weather with a cold front that has pushed the warm, moist air from the south up north,” she said.
“It’s a very unhealthy situation.”
The condition of the ground and energy in the atmosphere meant tornadoes could grow, she said.
Image copyright AFP Image caption (L-R) Jessica and Jason Crowell pull a motorbike stuck in the debris of their home
“We’ve seen them hitting so many communities across the south and what’s left of the interior states, like Arkansas, are tornadoes I haven’t seen all season and the state of Tennessee is in a very hazardous situation, at least for the next few days.”
The twisters in north-eastern Tennessee followed wind-driven squalls and heavy rain that swept across the region on Thursday.
In May, a twister killed 24 people and destroyed at least 500 homes in the north-eastern state of Missouri.
Sorry, this Twitter post is currently unavailable.
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens vowed that the state would rebuild.
Images from Tullahoma show storm debris strewn across roads and trees blowing down into houses.
Meanwhile, caravans of ambulances lined the streets as medical teams and fire trucks worked to help the injured.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Many vehicles were destroyed when trees came crashing down onto roads
Image copyright EPA Image caption Cars were turned upside down and crushed as trees crashed down onto roads
Vice President Mike Pence and Cabinet members were monitoring the situation.
Mr Pence said in a tweet that he had spoken to Governor Bill Haslam and they were working together to “get the job done”.
President Donald Trump is expected to meet the federal cabinet at the White House on Friday to discuss the situation, after he is back at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.
Mr Trump and the cabinet will take up their posts again next Wednesday, a White House official said.
Image copyright EPA Image caption In Utica, Kentucky, children were sent to safety and parents sought shelter in storm shelters
Image copyright EPA Image caption A big pile of debris was left in Utica, Kentucky, by the storm
So far, 2017 has been the most deadly year in the US in terms of weather-related fatalities.
Navy Chief Warrant Officer Johnnie Lawson was killed while driving in extreme thunderstorm conditions in northeastern Kansas, and a 16-year-old girl was killed after the tornado they were riding in was swept through a western Kansas neighborhood,