Early morning tornado in Alabama destroys church and day care center

Suspected tornadoes tore through Alabama and other southeastern states overnight into Wednesday morning, with tornado watches issued until at least noon.

Bill Castle/AP
A house damaged in the Arley area of Winston County, Ala., from a suspected tornado that killed multiple people in Alabama on Nov. 29, as a line of severe storms moved across the South overnight, authorities said.

A suspected tornado tore through Alabama overnight through Wednesday morning as severe storms landed in several southeastern states, destroying infrastructure and power lines.

Three deaths have been confirmed so far, all in the northeastern Alabama community of Rosalie, and four children were injured in a daycare center in Ider that was razed by the tornado. Up to 20 buildings, including a Baptist church and shopping plaza, were damaged.

It wasn’t the only tornado sighted throughout the night in the tornado-prone region of the Southeast. According to the National Weather Service, up to 27 tornadoes were reported in Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama, amid hail and heavy downpours. According to the National Weather Service’s latest tornado watch, portions of southwestern Alabama, southeastern Louisiana, southeastern Mississippi, and areas near the coastal waters are still at risk of tornadoes and damaging wind gusts from 4:55 a.m. to noon, Central Time, on Wednesday.

The last time the same states suffered from a deadly tornado was in 2011. That storm left at least 180 dead, mostly from Alabama, although Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Virginia, and Arkansas were also affected. It was seen as one of the deadliest storms in the country since another tornado outbreak in 1974.

Researchers called the region the “Dixie Alley,” where tornado density and fatalities are higher than in the states that make up "Tornado Alley," which runs from northern Texas through the Great Plains. 

Jackson County Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen told the Associated Press Wednesday morning that authorities are still searching door to door before dawn to assess the damage in Rosalie. He warned that residents should prepare for upcoming storms expected to hit the area Wednesday morning and stay out of the area to help first responders reach the injured.

Local media described scenes of destroyed homes, damaged roofs, felled trees, and baseball and golf ball-sized hail hitting Mississippi as a result of likely tornadoes, according to a report compiled by Weather.com.

As of 4 a.m. Eastern Time Wednesday morning, Alabama Power said that 3,500 of its customers were experiencing power outages, including some in Birmingham, NBC News reports. Officials say that power lines were down in much of north and central Mississippi.

This report includes material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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