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    Death Toll Rises as Tornadoes Ransack Carolinas

    By By Heather Buchman, Meteorologist
    April 19, 2011, 1:30:08 AM EDT

    The destruction and devastation left behind by a vicious storm system that has been tearing across the country since Thursday has been awe-striking. North Carolina has been the latest state to bear the brunt.

    Reports say that nearly two dozen people have been killed, as tornadoes ripped through North Carolina Saturday. The fatalities were reported in Raleigh, Benson, Bladenboro, Godwin, Broadway and in the Ammon area north of Elizabethtown.

    The death toll with this storm system has been estimated at over three dozen after tornadoes and severe thunderstorms tore through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, and North Carolina from Thursday through Saturday.

    Finally late Saturday night, the vicious thunderstorms moved offshore of the Carolinas. Dry weather into Monday to allow many residents to start clean-up efforts.

    Saturday's Tornadoes As of Sunday afternoon, Saturday's total number of tornado reports was up to 105 with the majority of them occurring in North Carolina.

    Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina's capital city, has suffered severe damage after a "large" tornado ripped through Saturday afternoon.

    Reports say three people were killed when the tornado destroyed mobile homes near Brentwood Drive in the Stonybrook Mobile Home Park of Raleigh.

    This same twister had reportedly been described by an emergency manager as large and destructive when it tore through Holly Springs, N.C., around 3:40 p.m. before hitting Raleigh.

    This image, courtesy of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in San Diego, Calif., shows tornado reports Saturday as of 7:30 p.m. EDT.

    Reports also noted debris falling from the large tornado in northern Raleigh, while several brick buildings completely destroyed on South Saunders Street in southeastern Raleigh. Multiple roof collapses were sited in southwestern Raleigh.

    Severe damage has also been reported with many tornadoes farther south of Raleigh and into eastern parts of South Carolina.

    The tornadoes have torn roofs off houses and other buildings, collapsed mobile homes and flipped over trailers and vehicles. Trees are down all over the place.

    A tornado that ripped through the Sanford and Broadway areas of North Carolina reportedly destroyed at least 30 homes, while also severely damaging a Walmart and Big Lots. Two fatalities were reported.

    Near Union Ridge, N.C., more than two dozen buildings, three homes and a barn were destroyed.

    In other tornado reports, several people were injured near Bonneau, S.C., when a church collapsed. Hundreds of trees were also downed.

    In Roanoke Rapids, N.C., a tornado reportedly ripped off the roof of a convalescent home with patients having to be evacuated.

    Reports say one person was killed and many seriously injured when a tornado hit near Godwin, N.C., Saturday evening.

    Trail of Destruction Spans from Oklahoma to Carolinas As of early Sunday afternoon, there have been more than 241 reports of tornadoes from the Plains into the Midwest, Deep South and Carolinas since Thursday.

    Most of the 113 reports from Friday alone came out of Mississippi and Alabama. Thursday's reports were focused largely in eastern Oklahoma, though there were a few in Kansas, northeastern Texas and Alabama.

    Another image from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in San Diego, Calif., shows tornado reports with the storm system that has been ripping across the country from the Plains to the East Coast Thursday through Saturday.

    Damaging winds, independent of tornadoes, and dangerous lighting have also proven destructive and even deadly.

    According to CNN, the death toll from the brutal storm system was up to 17 by Saturday with fatalities in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama.

    AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Meghan Evans has more information on the destruction that was left in Mississippi and Alabama Friday.

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