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Midstate hit by another round of severe storms

A swarm of Fay-associated thunderstorms stretching from north Georgia to the Florida panhandle has spawned downpours and triggered more than a dozen tornado warnings as they marched across the region today.

In the late afternoon and evening, tornado warnings were issued for Putnam, Baldwin, Jones, Dooly, Houston and Peach counties, but there were no confirmed tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

Most of Middle Georgia remains under a tornado watch until 2 a.m. Wednesday. The tornado watch includes: Baldwin, Bibb, Bleckley, Crawford, Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, Houston, Jones, Macon, Meriwether, Peach, Pike, Pulaski, Schley, Sumter, Taylor, Twiggs, Wilkinson and Wilcox counties.

Houston County Emergency Management Agency Director Jimmy Williams said there were no reports of significant damage as of 5:15 p.m.

As the storm moved over Perry, emergency officials did receive several unconfirmed reports of funnel clouds, including one south of the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter at U.S. 41 and South Perry Parkway, he said.

About 30 Houston County school system buses were late taking elementary students home because of the tornado warning, said Beth McLaughlin, Houston County school system spokeswoman. Bus drivers were instructed to head to the closest school, where children were taken off the bus and inside the schools until the storm passed, she said.

Peach County E-911 Director Sheryl Hobbs said the tornado warning expired at 5 p.m. with no reported damage. Peach County EMA Director echoed that report, adding, "Just a big scare."

Dooly County EMA Director Kenny Calhoun said the storm moved through and the tornado warning lifted without any reported problems. "We dodged the bullet," Calhoun said.

According to forecaster Mike Griesinger of the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, those afternoon tornado warnings were in addition to six separate tornado warnings that were issued earlier in the day for nine area counties: Putnam, Crisp, Taylor and Upson, Lamar, Monroe and Crawford, Jasper and Jones.

Monroe County Emergency Management Director Matt Perry said workers on the roof at Plant Scherer along Ga. 87 spotted a funnel cloud around noon on Tuesday, but assessment teams didn't find damage or evidence of a touchdown.

In Dodge County, schools Superintendent Lynn Rogers reported that school buses are running 30 minutes late today due to the storms. Parents should expect delays with their children getting home from school today, she said.

Earlier, a midnight storm dumped about an inch of rain on Macon and Warner Robins late Monday and early Tuesday. But Tuesday's daytime round of intermittent showers and storms dropped less than half that much.

Griesinger of the National Weather Service said, "We're still in the flow (of moisture) coming off the Gulf. We're not gonna see widespread, heavy rains like we had. ... But through the afternoon, it's still so moist, all it will take is a little bit of sunshine and quickly it will pop up a few thunderstorms."

"It's finally off to the northeast, but it's still got a lot of moisture that's coming up out of the Gulf," Griesinger said this afternoon. "That's why it's kind of been so muggy and there's so much rain with it."

Staff Writer Liz Fabian contributed to this report.

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