Massive tornado rips across central Alabama, wreaking havoc; more expected

Police respond to a downed tree across 1st Ave W on a day of extended severe weather Thursday

A tornado outbreak is expected today into early this evening across parts of the Southeast northward into Tennessee.

All of the deaths came in Calhoun County in the eastern part of the state.

Three members of one family were killed while sheltering in "a wooden structure" in the town of Ohatchee and another died in mobile home there, Calhoun County coroner Pat Brown told AFP. The fifth person who died was in a mobile home in Wellington, the station said.

Police respond to a downed tree across 1st Ave W on a day of extended severe weather, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Helena, Ala.

© Butch Dill, AP Damage is seen to a home after a tornado passed through the Eagle Point subdivision, Thursday, March 25, 2021, near Birmingham, Alabama.

Alabama Power reports at least 14,000 customers are without electricity now in the Birmingham area.

The risk was projected to rise west and northwest of Birmingham, WIAT-TV said.

Search and rescue efforts were complicated as strong weather continued to rake across the region.

The tornado hit small communities south of Birmingham and inflicted catastrophic damage, police said. Authorities reported major tornado damage south of Birmingham as strong storms moved through the state.

Weather experts sounded the alarm, noting that the conditions were rare for the South.

A tornado warning has since been lifted, but forecasters said they were still possible into the evening across all of northern Alabama and southern middle Tennessee.

Long-track tornadoes are twisters that carve up the ground for several miles, often causing devastating damage.

"Thinking of everyone in Alabama and all of those impacted by the severe weather across the South tonight", she tweeted Thursday night.