- Two people were injured in Clarke County, Alabama.
- Damage has been reported in several areas.
- Those in the potential path of severe weather should monitor conditions closely.
Dozens of homes are damaged or destroyed, two people injured and trees and power lines down in a dangerous tornado outbreak in the Deep South.
Two people were hurt when a home was destroyed in Clarke County, Alabama. Brian Wilkerson, deputy director of emergency management for the county, told weather.com in a phone call Wednesday evening that four other homes were damaged.
More than 45,000 homes and businesses were without electricty across Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi as of about 7:30 p.m. CDT, according to poweroutage.us.
There were more than 20 reports of tornadoes by about 8:30 p.m. EDT. Actual tornado counts will be determined after damage surveys from the National Weather Service in the coming days.
Roger Bean, who lives in Clanton, Alabama, hunkered down in an underground storm shelter with relatives, including several children, as a neighbor’s home was ripped apart.
“It’s gut wrenching,” Bean told weather.com in an interview. “Everything they had’s just destroyed.”
Bean said it sounded like he’d always imagined it would – as if a freight train was going by.
“Luckily there’s no loss of life, the people are OK,” he said. “You know, all the other stuff can be replaced.”
Bean posted a photo of the destroyed home on Facebook.
Video from Moundville, Alabama, near Tuscaloosa, showed a tree blocking a road and several homes with holes in their roofs. Twenty to 30 homes in the area sustained mostly minor damage, according to a local media report that cited Hale County Emergency Management.
Tamara Croom, deputy director for emergency management in adjacent Tuscaloosa County, told weather.com Wednesday evening that some residents were displaced in the Moundville area. Most of the damage was to roofs, Croom said.
Photos posted to social media showed a home that appeared to have collapsed in Autauga County, Alabama, on the northwest side of Montgomery.
Damage was reported in several other Alabama counties, including Choctaw, Chilton, Cherokee and Dallas.
A shelter in Tuscaloosa filled with people, according to WBRC-TV. Students also crowded into a shelter at the University of Alabama, where students were told to stay in a safe place until at least 4:15 CDT.
A dispatcher in Wayne County, Mississippi, told weather.com Wednesday afternoon that several homes and chicken houses were damaged in the county, about 60 miles northeast of Hattiesburg and near the state line with Alabama . Officials hadn’t been able to go out to the scene because of ongoing severe weather, so the extent of the damage was unknown.
A tornado touched down in the county shortly after noon CDT.
Video shot in Wayne County and shared on social media showed what appeared to be debris flying in the air.
A photo shared by WLBT-TV showed damaged farm structures.
The storms came as NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center issued a number of “particularly dangerous situation” tornado watches from central and southern Mississippi into western and central Alabama. These included Jackson, Hattiesburg and Meridian in Mississippi and Birmingham and Tuscaloosa in Alabama.
This type of tornado watch is rarely issued and means numerous strong tornadoes are expected.
Multiple other areas are also under threat.
City offices in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, closed at 2 p.m. CDT.
“Today is a very serious day,” Mayor Toby Barker said in a Wednesday morning briefing.
“Today is really a day you need to be focused on weather. And even, especially, into tonight,” said Glenn Moore, director of Forrest County Emergency Management Agency, which includes Hattiesburg.
Several shelters and saferooms are open statewide.
In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency for all of the state’s 67 counties ahead of the storms. Schools in several cities and counties were either closed Wednesday or moved to virtual classes only, including Birmingham.
COVID-19 vaccination sites were also closed in several states.
Schools in some parts of Louisiana announced they would dismiss students early on Wednesday afternoon.
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Dangerous severe weather is expected to continue through Thursday in the South with the potential for additional tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail, according to weather.com meteorologists.
Anyone in the potential path of severe weather should monitor all forecasts, watches and warnings closely, be prepared to seek shelter immediately and have multiple ways to receive severe weather alerts.
The continued threat of severe weather for Thursday prompted some school districts in Georgia to move to remote learning, including schools in Atlanta and Cobb and Henry counties.
The South Carolina state Senate canceled plans to be in session on Thursday.
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.