- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The Latest on storms in the Deep South (all times local):

5:25 p.m.

The National Weather Service confirms a tornado hit southern Mississippi, leaving behind damage in Simpson and Smith counties, but no reported injuries.

Meteorologist Latrice Maxie says a storm assessment team rated the twister an EF-2 and it hit Simpson County, east of Magee, between 7:45 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. Thursday before tracking into Smith County.

Smith County Emergency Management officials confirmed there are trees down west of Raleigh and a few homes were damaged.

Maxie says more severe weather, with potential to produce tornadoes and damaging winds, were expected in central and southern Mississippi later Thursday.

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11:40 a.m.

Homes and businesses are missing roofs and porches following a possible twister in southern Mississippi.

Simpson County resident Michael Koehn says an apparent tornado tore through his rural community east of Magee on Thursday morning. He says about 25 homes and businesses were damaged, including the small business where he makes and stores wooden furniture.

Photos posted on social media by residents and area news outlets show roofs peeled off buildings and multiple fallen trees.

The National Weather Service says it will determine whether a tornado caused the damage.

Elsewhere, the agency says heavy rains are threatening to collapse Gayle Evans Lake Dam, located west of Brookhaven near U.S. 84. Forecasters say a dam failure would send as much as 5 feet of water over the highway.

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9:40 a.m.

The National Weather Service is reporting damage from a possible tornado in central Mississippi as storms sweep across the Deep South.

The Storm Prediction Center says a possible twister destroyed a barn near Wesson on Thursday morning. Several tornado warnings were issued as storms moved across the region, but it’s unclear whether the area where the damage occurred was under a warning at the time.

Trees were blown down in other parts of Copiah County, and the weather service says fallen trees blocked roads in Franklin and Simpson counties.

To the west, forecasters issued flash flood watches and warning for southern Louisiana. The weather service says more than 3 inches of rain fell early Thursday at Baton Rouge, and an additional 5 inches was possible in some areas.

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9:02 a.m.

Powerful storms are causing heavy rains and wind damage in the Deep South, and forecasters say more are on the way.

The weather service says more than 3 inches of rain fell in Louisiana early Thursday, and winds toppled trees in Mississippi. Forecasters issued several tornado warnings.

Forecasters say storms moving across the Gulf Coast could be strong through Sunday in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The National Weather Service says the threat includes the possibility of heavy rains, strong straight-line winds and isolated tornadoes.

The rains could help ease drought conditions that are still plaguing much of the region. The driest areas are in the northern counties of Alabama and Georgia, which the National Drought Mitigation Center still lists as being in an extreme drought.

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