Video: Spring storms off to deadly start

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    >>> last night into this morning as a violent weather front moved to the northeast across parts of the american south , nine americans lost their lives. they had no time to run as the fierce embedded storms that dropped down in the form of tornadoes took hold on several places. nbc's ron mott is two hours north of atlanta tonight in ellijay , georgia . ron , good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening to you. as you mentioned, at least nine people have died in these storms, most in georgia . amazingly no, one here. this was a big, powerful, fast-moving storm that needed little time to cause a whole lot of damage. from kansas to texas, missouri to arkansas, monday was a mess, as a powerful storm system churned across the midwest and south, destroying property and claiming lives. among those killed, the driver of this car in atlanta . and an hour south of the city, a 28-year-old man and his 3-year-old son, who died when a tree crashed into the bedroom where they slept.

    >> it don't feel real.

    >> reporter: his fiancee, the child's mother, escaped unharmed with the couple's other toddler.

    >> i was in my pajamas. i just had to run, to get there. when i got there, it was --

    >> reporter: in kentucky melvin daughtry's mobile home was tossed on its side.

    >> just fortunate that nobody was seriously hurt here.

    >> reporter: golfball size hail fell in iowa as did trees just about everywhere the severe weather passed. in waverly, tennessee a likely tornado ripped through the town's square.

    >> we had a lot of roofs blown off of buildings. power was interrupt odd to downtown.

    >> reporter: in dallas lightning filled the sky. heavy rain filled streets.

    >> the deadliest storm in georgia in more than a decade rolled through last night.

    >> reporter: a lightning bolt hit a tower in atlanta , while another is suspected much sparking a fire that burned an entire block of businesses in south georgia . near the small town of ellijay , a boun housing 64 animals was leveled.

    >> look at you.

    >> reporter: they and three people with them all survived.

    >> and my son went with my arm and i'm hanging and i was off the ground about like that.

    >> reporter: tonight this system has moved off the east coast . it's now out over the atlantic but not before prompting a record number of severe weather reports.

    >> ron mott in ellijay , georgia for us. ron , thanks.

updated 4/5/2011 8:00:40 PM ET 2011-04-06T00:00:40

An enormous tree limb that crashed through a Georgia family's bedroom killed a father and the young son he was holding in his arms Tuesday as a fast-moving storm system pounded the South with tornadoes, hail and spectacular lightning.

At least nine people were killed around the region, including several who died on roads made treacherous by downed trees and power lines.

Paramedics found the 4-year-old boy, Alix Bonhomme III, wrapped in the arms of his father, Alix Bonhomme Jr., in a sight so wrenching that even grizzled rescuers wept. Miraculously, a younger son in the bedroom wasn't hurt, nor was Bonhomme's fiancee, Marcie Moorer, who was sleeping in another room.

Moorer, who was still in pajamas hours later, said she still couldn't fathom what happened when the storm rumbled through Jackson, a town about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Atlanta.

"I'm still in shock. It hasn't hit me yet," said a bleary-eyed Moorer, who was planning to marry Bonhomme in July.

The storms were part of a system that cut a wide swath from the Mississippi River across the Southeast to Georgia and the Carolinas on Monday and early Tuesday. Drivers dodged debris during the morning commute in Atlanta, where one person was killed when a tree fell on his car.

Image: Marcie Moorer
John Spink  /  Atlanta Journal & Constitution via AP
Marcie Moorer, left, whose son and boyfriend were killed in a storm, mourns with Rachel Battle in Jackson, Ga., on Tuesday.

Based on annual summaries compiled by The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, it appeared that the storms spawned the most reports of severe weather — more than 1,100 — in a 24-hour period since the year 2000, the Weather Channel noted.

The National Weather Service had confirmed at least eight of the nearly two-dozen possible tornadoes it was investigating in several states.

The system that also knocked out power to hundreds of thousands had moved over the Atlantic Ocean by late morning.

In Augusta, Georgia, a practice round for the Masters golf tournament was delayed by 45 minutes while workers cleaned up debris. One of Augusta National Golf Club's famed magnolia trees was destroyed by the storm.

In rural south Georgia, authorities said 45-year-old Christopher McNair was found dead under debris after a mobile home was ripped from its foundation by a tornado.

An unidentified Irwin County man was killed when a tree struck his home, according to emergency officials. And 56-year-old Ronnie Taylor, a Colquitt County road worker, was killed when he struck a large oak tree in the middle of the road as he was driving to work early Tuesday.

Memphis fire officials said an 87-year-old man found dead in his home Monday was electrocuted by a downed power line. In southern Mississippi, a 21-year-old man was killed when his car struck a tree that had fallen across a road, Copiah County coroner Ellis Stuart said.

The Georgia Department of Corrections said Robert Kincaid Jr., a state inmate being housed in the Colquitt County Prison, was killed Tuesday morning during storm cleanup when a tree fell on him.

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