A tornado struck Washington County, north of Panama City, `sheriff’s spokesperson Kristy Kolmetz said.
“There’s a total destruction of homes in that area,” Kolmetz told CNN. The conditions of the two injured people weren’t immediately available.
More severe storms and strong winds still are possible Thursday across a swath of the country’s eastern third.
A tornado watch for portions of the Carolina is in effect until 8 p.m. ET.
A second tornado watch, issued Thursday afternoon, covers portions of eastern Maryland, northeast North Carolina and southeast Virginia until 8 pm EDT, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
The watch covers more than 5 million people, including residents off Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Ocean City, Maryland. A few tornadoes, marble size hail and damaging thunderstorm wind gusts of 70 mph are possible, according to the SPC.
Ongoing storms have already produced reports of funnel clouds and wind damage near Richmond.
Storms, with suspected tornadoes, damaged buildings in the South
Storms left damage in several parts of the South.
The gym at George Elementary School was destroyed, and the kitchen and cafeteria were severely damaged, the Springdale School District said.
“Many residents have been displaced from their homes and numerous businesses have reported significant damages,” Sprouse said.
In Alabama, one person suffered a minor injury from severe weather at the University of Montevallo, about 35 miles south of Birmingham, the school said. The area had been under a tornado warning that night. Details about how the injury happened weren’t immediately available.
In southwestern Alabama’s Choctaw County, several homes received major to minor damage, emergency officials said. Southern Choctaw High School also sustained damage Wednesday to its baseball field and gym, and a school bus was flipped on its side, Tyler Davidson of the Choctaw County Emergency Management Agency said.
In eastern Mississippi’s Noxubee County, at least two mobile homes were damaged Wednesday, and residents were rescued from inside, Corey Brown from the county’s emergency management office said. It’s believed they suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Brown said.
High winds ahead of the storm system helped fuel a brush fire in Sevier County, Tennessee. At least one person was injured, and the flames have burned through at least 1,000 acres, county officials said. At least 35 structures have been affected.
US sets March record for number of tornadoes for second straight year
The previous March record was set just last year, when 191 tornadoes were reported across the country. The third-highest total for March was in 2017, with 187.
Most tornadoes in the US happen from April to May, though scientists have tracked a tendency toward more tornadoes occurring earlier in the year, likely as a function of climate change, as well as influences from La Niña.
“Our future projections of how severe weather may change in the future … they show an earlier start to the severe weather season, so more severe weather in February, more severe weather in March,” Victor Gensini, a professor at Northern Illinois University, told CNN.
CNN’s Aya Elamroussi, Caroll Alvarado, Brandon Miller, Dave Hennen, Chris Boyette, Mike Saenz and Gregory Lemos contributed to this report.