Strong storms and possibly tornadoes reportedly killed two in Alabama on Monday, while trapping others in their homes and leaving many across the state without power.
The state's Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency after the storms tore through Birmingham, with Center Point and Trussville enduring the brunt of the damage. At least seven counties reported damage from the tornadoes, as twisters, severe thunderstorms and hail hit the state, according to the governor's office. The rough weather reportedly left overturned mobile homes, toppled radio towers and downed power lines in its wake.
I urge Alabamians to heed weather warnings to protect their families, homes and businesses, Bentley said.
One of the deaths, a 16-year-old girl, occurred in Clay, a small city on the outskirts of Jefferson County. The other, an 82-year-old man, happened along Birmingham's western edge.
Flooding, hail and strong winds still threatened Alabama Monday afternoon, as the state's central portion remained under a tornado watch, according to the National Weather Service. The agency could not confirm tornadoes hit, but are suspected to have played a role in some of the destruction.
We have major, major damage, Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency official Bob Ammons told Reuters.
The storms left clean-up crews sawing away at downed trees blocking roads, as others emerged to find their homes leveled or sans roof.
The chain of severe weather began in Arkansas on Sunday, where possible twisters left thousands without power. As many as eight tornadoes may have hit the state on Sunday night, walloping Fordyce and hitting the state with softball-size hail and 70 mph winds. The severe chain of potential twisters stretched through Mississippi and Tennessee, with a tornado watch still in effect for parts of Georgia.
The death toll is surprisingly low, after tornado sirens went off at 3 a.m. The new precautions come after 240 twisters hit on April 27, 2011, killing more than 200 people, which Alabama has yet to recover from.