(MONTGOMERY, AL) — An extreme weather system tore through Alabama on Thursday, unleashing a series of deadly tornadoes that resulted in the death of at least five people.
The threat didn’t abate into the evening hours, sending alarms for “violent,” “long-track” twisters.
“Violent” in weather terms, mean tornadoes can unleash winds 166 mph or greater and can hit EF-4 and/or EF-5 status. “Long track” means the twisters can be on the ground for at least 25 miles.
The tornadoes killed at least three people on Thursday in Alabama’s Calhoun County. More deaths may be confirmed, as reports of fatalities ad injuries in the Ohatchee area are emerging.
Tiffany DeBoer, spokesperson for the county’s Emergency Management Agency, said search and rescue missions are ongoing.
Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego said the tornadoes completely destroyed homes, causing concern if residents may be buried underneath the rubble.
“Our priority at the moment is identifying those citizens in need of emergency medical attention,” said Samaniego. “We will then work with our partnering agencies to provide needed resources to our residents who are displaced. This search and outreach effort will continue throughout the night and into the early morning hours.”
Beyond tornadoes, a police officer was struck by lightning in Florence when assisting with flood conditions. The officer survived and reportedly suffered burns to his back.
The system poses a danger not only to Alabama, but Mississippi as well as both states are in the threat zone. Parts of Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois are also at risk.
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