Image: Sandbagging in Florida
Phil Coale  /  AP
Friends and family Carolyn Miller work to put sandbags around her house in an attempt to keep out the rising waters of the Ocholocknee River on Thursday in Tallahassee, Fla.
updated 4/2/2009 7:14:34 PM ET 2009-04-02T23:14:34

Another barrage of storms hit the southeast Thursday, bring threats of tornadoes, causing a passenger train to hit a fallen tree and sending at least one person to the hospital after lightning struck a home. Flood warnings as well as tornado watches and warnings were in effect around the region.

In south Mississippi, an Amtrak train hit a tree the storm knocked onto the tracks Thursday afternoon south of McComb in Pike County, injuring the conductor, said Carlene Statham, assistant director of Pike County Civil Defense.

The train was headed from Chicago to New Orleans with 71 passengers aboard when it hit the tree, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. The only report of an injury was the conductor, who complained of back pain.

Only the engine lost contact with the tracks and the "the train is powered, lit and heated," Magliari said. He said the passengers would be put on chartered buses and taken to their destinations.

'A pretty good jolt'
The lightning strike happened in Desoto County in north Mississippi and gave the person inside "a pretty good jolt" but the injuries were not life threatening, said Bob Storey, director of the county's emergency management agency. The resident was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution.

Also, what may have been a funnel cloud was spotted in Pike County and several homes, trees and power lines in the area were damaged, Statham said. There were no immediate reports of injuries and officials were working to confirm if it was indeed a funnel cloud, Statham said.

She said the damage at one home was caused when "the wind picked up the back porch and threw it on top of the house."

Hail ranging in size from golf balls to nickels was reported in areas of central and south-central Mississippi, said Mike Edmonston, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Waves of storms pelted west Alabama with hail and rain, and one squall blew down trees in Lamar County near the Mississippi line, county emergency management director Johnny Bigham said. No injuries were reported.

The National Weather Service said a possible tornado blew down dozens of trees near Samantha, about 20 miles north of Tuscaloosa. No injuries were immediately reported.

School officials in Enterprise, Ala., canceled classes Thursday as a precaution, mindful of a tornado that killed eight students at a high school there two years ago. Several other Alabama school systems said they would release students earlier than usual Thursday before the brunt of the system arrived.

Thunderstorms soak Florida Panhandle
Meanwhile, a line of violent thunderstorms moved through the western Florida Panhandle leaving about foot of water on some low-lying streets in the downtown Pensacola business district. Flooding was reported elsewhere in the Panhandle including in Panama City where officials blocked off streets and limited other streets to one lane.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for the Tallahassee area and cities around Florida's central Panhandle.

"Our primary concern today is more flash flooding," said public safety director Dino Villani of Okaloosa County, which includes Fort Walton Beach. "Very little rain can cause a lot of problems."

Image: Flooding at golf course
Dave Martin  /  AP
Floodwaters receded Wednesday in places like this golf course in Geneva, Ala.
Cherise Davis, who lives on a road next to the Ochlockonee River about 20 miles west of Tallahassee, said some homeowners closest to the water were preparing to move if necessary. Water wasn't yet in homes but was getting close, she said.

A river in soggy southeastern Louisiana crested a bit lower than predicted, putting water into streets in a suburban New Orleans parish, but sparing almost all low-lying homes. But officials said the crest would not pass entirely through St. Tammany Parish until early Friday and authorities were patrolling several subdivisions.

Strong storms moved across Middle Tennessee, producing heavy rain, flooding and a possible tornado. National Weather Service meteorologist John Cohen in Nashville said the agency received a report of a possible tornado at 4:06 p.m. Thursday about seven miles east of downtown Nashville.

The Federal Aviation Administration evacuated the tower at Nashville International Airport and all flight activity was stopped temporarily.

The National Weather Service also issued a tornado warning for a portion of western Kentucky as a line of storms began moving through the state.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Weather warnings for Southeast


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