At least five deaths and multiple injuries have been reported in Calhoun County, Ala., after a tornado hit the region, county coroner Pat Brown told NPR.
The tornado is part of a “particularly dangerous” system of storms rolling across the Deep South, just south of Birmingham, Ala., Thursday.
Gov. Kay Ivey urged state residents to stay alert to continuing dangers. “Tragically, we are receiving reports of loss of life,” she said. “I offer my sincerest prayers to all impacted. Unfortunately, the day is not over yet. Y’all, please stay safe and vigilant!”
There are reports, images and videos showing significant damage in many communities particularly in the Eagle Point neighborhood in a suburb south of Birmingham. There are ongoing rescues of people trapped in some of these homes.
Power lines and trees are down throughout the area leaving thousands without electricity after strong winds howled through the region.
Ivey issued an emergency declaration as meteorologists warned that more twisters were likely on their way.
“I urge all Alabamians to closely monitor the weather system as it continues to impact portions of [Alabama], especially if you are in the line of the highest risk storms,” Ivey wrote on Twitter.
#GOESEast is keeping an eye on the southern U.S., where a major severe weather outbreak is expected today. Here we can see severe thunderstorms producing numerous #lightning strikes, with damaging winds, large hail, and tornadoes likely across the region. pic.twitter.com/XKn5yeM3qB
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) March 25, 2021
The storm is a long-track “super cell” and has produced multiple tornadoes in multiple counties across central Alabama. It has traveled in excess of 100 miles so far and this same system is still on the ground as it moves east and approaching Georgia.
Forecasters began warning about a significant weather event on Wednesday, and the potential outbreak was given the National Weather Service’s rare top warning of “high risk.”
Tornado sirens began been going off early Thursday morning and TV meteorologists have been on-air non-stop for hours. This was the second time in eight days that these same areas were threatened. Last week, there were more than 50 tornadoes reported in Alabama and Mississippi.
The powerful system is producing strong storms, tornadoes and hail in Mississippi — conditions that are all expected to last for hours as it moves northeast through Alabama and Tennessee.