Powerful winds and a tornado spawned by a 1,000-mile-long storm system pounded communities in northwest Georgia on Wednesday, overturning dozens of vehicles and trapping residents.
The tornado caused significant damage in Adairsville, Ga.
One person died in that town and another died in Tennessee, authorities reported. At least 17 people were injured in Georgia, two critically.
The Adairsville death marks the first person killed by a U.S. tornado in 220 days, a record for most consecutive days without such a fatality, said CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen.
The storm churned eastward, prompting severe thunderstorm and flash-flood warnings in eastern Tennessee and western portions of the Carolinas. The front has led to nearly 400 reports of severe wind and 20 of tornadoes over two days, from Texas to Pennsylvania.
In the Adairsville storm, winds caused significant damage to a motel and a manufacturing plant, according to Craig Millsap, fire chief and interim emergency management director for Bartow County. The motel's guests are believed safe and workers at the Daiki plant have all been accounted for, he said.
Daiki employees hid in a kitchen and bathroom as the tornado snatched the roof off and left much of the plant in ruins. Two workers suffered minor injuries.
The driver of a commercial truck that was overturned near Adairsville said the storm "grew legs and just started accelerating." He told CNN Atlanta affiliate WGCL he was unscathed. "There is no way in the world that if you see this debris behind me I should be alive."
The National Weather Service reported major structural damage and overturned cars in downtown Adairsville, where a news crew for CNN affiliate WSB-TV witnessed a tornado form and touch down Wednesday morning.
The death came when a building collapsed, Millsap said.