- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 22, 2017

President Trump on Sunday offered condolences for lives lost in fierce weather that swept overnight across the Southeast, as forecasters warned of more fast-moving storms and unusually strong twisters along the Georgia-Florida line.

The deadly storms were blamed for sat least 15 deaths and dozens of injuries.

Mr. Trump said he called Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to express condolences. He described the storms as “vicious and powerful and strong” when making brief remarks about it at a White House ceremony to swear-in some of his top aides.

“They suffered greatly so we will be helping out the state of Georgia,” he said, adding that he planned to call Florida Gov. Rick Scott. He also expressed concern for Alabama.

“They all got hit hard,” he said.

More bad weather was on the way.

The National Weather Service said that southern Georgia, northern Florida and the corner of southeastern Alabama could face forceful tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail. Long track tornadoes, which plow on for miles, were also a real risk.

The weather service’s Storm Prediction Center warned on its website of a “dangerous outbreak of tornadoes” on Sunday afternoon and pressed for residents to prepare. Long track tornadoes, somewhat rare and capable of staying on the ground for 20 or more miles, were possible.

There are 4.8 million people under the high risk area; the total area of bad weather in the Southeast, who fall under the slight risk category or worse, is about 38 million people.

January tornado outbreaks are rare but not unprecedented, particularly in the South. Data from the Storm Prediction Center shows that, over the past decade, the nation has seen an average 38 tornadoes in January, ranging from a high of 84 in 2008 to just four in 2014.

If the storm fatalities reported so far this year — four each in Alabama and Mississippi and the 11 in Georgia — are all attributed to twisters, this January’s death toll would be worse than 1999. That year, 18 people died in series of storms in Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee.

The story is based in part on wire service reports.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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