At least five people died Thursday as multiple tornadoes hit Alabama, the second line of severe storms to hit the state in two weeks.
The tornadoes were moving across the state, the National Weather Service said, and there were reports of destroyed houses, downed trees and wounded and captured people. More than 35,000 customers were without electricity in Alabama,according to poweroutage.us.
And the outbreak has not yet been in the region: the NWS predicted a number of intense and prolonged tornadoes, widespread harmful winds (some hurricane force) and the spread of heavy hail in the evening.
Strong thunderstorms were forecast from western Kentucky to southern Indiana. Harmful winds are the primary threat, but forecasters said isolated tornadoes would also be possible Thursday night.
Long-track tornadoes are twists that cut into the ground for several kilometers, often causing devastating damage.
“Tornadoes at night can be especially dangerous because they usually move fast and are hard to see,” NWS said. “The most persistent / most intense supercells will be able to produce strong to violent tornadoes, along with very heavy hail and significant harmful winds.”
In Alabama, Calhoun County coroner Pat Brown confirmed that five people, believed to be adults, died Thursday in three apartment buildings.
Brown said three family members were killed in a wooden-framed house in Ohatchee, a small town in eastern Alabama, after an apparent tornado struck around 3 p.m. Another man was killed at a mobile home in Ohatchee. The fifth victim, a woman, died at a mobile home in Wellington, Alabama.
The tornado was later confirmed near the city, Reported by the National Weather Service.
Strong storms began to emerge in central Alabama in the mid-afternoon and continued to come in waves during the early evening hours. There was a long list of roads with reported damage – a church was among the affected buildings.
Emergency managers in Calhoun County encouraged people to stay away from the area and let people working urgently to work, and to stay aware of the weather as more storms are expected during the evening.
Search and rescue efforts were complex as strong weather continued to pile up the entire region.
“We’ve been told we’re ready for a new round of storms,” said Major Clay Hammac of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has issued an emergency declaration for 46 counties with strong weather approaching, and officials have opened shelters in and around Birmingham. She too issued a statement via Twitter late Thursday after reports of residents killed in the storm.
“Significant and dangerous weather continues to affect parts of Alabama and I urge all people in the path of these tornadoes and storm systems to remain on standby,” Ivey said in a prepared statement. “It is tragic that we are receiving reports of loss of life. I pray the most sincere prayers for all those affected. Unfortunately, the day is not over yet. You, please, be safe and vigilant!”
Severe weather also hit parts of the Mississippi on Thursday, a day after authorities reported weather deaths in the southwestern part of the state. Esther Jarrell, 62, died when a large tree overturned on her mobile home after heavy rain soaked the ground Wednesday night, a Wilkinson County official told the Associated Press.
About 50 million people were on the road in difficult weather, the Storm Prediction Center said. Parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee were most at risk National Meteorological Service he said.
The meteorological service warned those on the road of the storm that, “if a tornado warning is issued for your area, move to a safe place, ideally in a basement or interior room on the lowest floor of a solid building.”
For the second time this month, Storm Forecast Center issued a high risk of strong weather in the south. The last time the center issued two major risks for severe weather in March was 30 years ago, in 1991. AccuWeather he said.
James Spann, chief meteorologist of ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Alabama, said the storms caused “catastrophic damage”.
“There’s nothing good in this,” Spann said as he followed another “violent” tornado through Bibb County at 5:15 p.m. “Nothing.”
Some of the city’s major areas on Thursday’s storm route include Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; and Birmingham and Huntsville, Alabama.
In Tennessee, a thunderstorm moving up to 80 km / h brought hail, strong winds and tree damage as it penetrated the state.
Lookahead in tornado season:The 2021 tornado season could be more destructive due to La Ninja. Here is the forecast.
Some schools in the south closed or switched to virtual learning on Thursday because serious weather threatened. COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites have also been closed.
Storms were forecast to hit primarily in the afternoon and early evening, and some could occur even in the dark.
Ashlyn Jackson, meteorologist from Jackson Weather Service Office, encouraged residents to have more than one warning system in the event of severe weather attacks.
Tornado season:Here’s how to prepare
“Especially at night, sometimes like tornado sirens won’t be enough to wake you up, so I’d tell people to have other methods to be aware of the weather,” she said.
In addition to strong weather, a flash of flooding on Thursday hit northern parts of Alabama and Georgia, as well as parts of Tennessee and western North Carolina.
According to northern Alabama, up to 4 inches of rain is expected – with larger amounts – in northern Alabama meteorological service at Huntsville.
Contributions: Keisha Rowe, Mississippi Clarion Ledger; Montgomery Advertiser; The Tuscaloosa News; Associated Press