WEATHER AUTHORITY : Dense Fog Advisory - Flash Flood Watch View Alerts

Alabama crews search for survivors after EF-3 tornado demolished homes, killing 1 and injuring dozens

CNN's Chad Myers gives an update on the weather system tearing across the south eastern US, including a tornado that killed at least 1 person in Alabama.

Posted: Jan 26, 2021 9:43 AM
Updated: Jan 26, 2021 10:00 PM


What used to be homes are now mangled piles of debris, with personal belongings strewn across lawns and streets.

That's the new reality near Birmingham, Alabama, after a 'large and extremely dangerous' tornado late Monday night annihilated parts of Jefferson County.

The storm killed at least one person and injured dozens more, officials said. The twister also ripped a hotel apart and tore off part of a church's roof.

About 30 people in Fultondale were injured, the city's fire chief said Tuesday.

'Seventeen patients were tak(en) to the ER, with various injuries and some critical,' Fire Chief Justin McKenzie said. At least 11 people were treated on the scene.

A young man, possibly a teen, was killed when he was trapped in the basement of his home, Fultondale Police Chief D.P. Smith said, according to AL.com.

Several of his family members were critically injured, Smith said.

The family had taken shelter in the basement, but apparently a tree fell on the house and caused the home to collapse.

'They were doing what they were supposed to be doing,' the police chief said, according to AL.com.

Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin said a ninth-grade student at Fultondale High School was killed in the tornado. He was 14.

'Out of respect for the family, we don't want to release too much information at this particular time,' Gonsoulin said.

The superintendent said the storm caused significant damage to Fultondale High School, forcing it to close for the rest of the school year.

The tornado that struck Fultondale was an EF-3 with peak winds estimated at 150 mph, according to the National Weather Service. It was 500 yards across and traveled 9.5 miles.

Six people trapped in their homes were rescued Tuesday morning, McKenzie said.

Rescue teams are still sifting through a hotel that collapsed overnight after most primary structures were cleared out, the fire chief said.

The tornado spawned from a line of storms among two large systems that have put more than 100 million people under winter weather alerts.

Tornado warnings and watches have expired in parts of Alabama and Georgia. But the same storm system is now expected to dump snow in states farther north.

'All of a sudden, the windows blew out in my room'

Parts of the Hampton Inn in Fultondale were obliterated, video from CNN affiliate WVTM shows.

Hotel guest Richard Ring was watching TV when rumblings from the storm drowned out the program's sound, he told WVTM.

He went to the bathroom and crawled under the sink.

'All of a sudden, the windows blew out in my room,' Ring said. 'The lights went out. And the sirens shrieked. And it was just surreal.'

Guests staying at the hotel escaped and sought shelter in a nearby restaurant when another line of storms came through, WVTM reported.

About 9,000 people live in Fultondale, just north of Birmingham.

'We will have a long day ahead'

At 10:54 p.m. local time Monday, the National Weather Service Birmingham 'confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado was located over Chalkville, or near Trussville, moving east at 50 mph.'

Early Tuesday morning, the NWS Birmingham tweeted it 'will inspect the damage to determine the strength of the tornado' that impacted the Fultondale area.

The city of Center Point, about 13 miles northeast of Birmingham, also saw 'quite a bit of damage' from the storm, Mayor Bobby Scott told CNN affiliate WBRC. About 16,000 people live there.

The back half of Hilldale Baptist Church's roof is missing, and the city's recreation center also suffered damage, Scott said.

'Looks like we will have a long day ahead,' Scott said. 'Hopefully we can get everything covered up.'

There was a bit of good news, the mayor said: 'We don't have any injuries to report right now, so we're definitely grateful for that.'

The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency urged people to stay out of the area as first responders try to reach the most damaged sites.

'On top of road dangers such as power lines and debris ... traffic is clogging the roads,' the agency tweeted.

Eleven schools in the area will be closed for in-person and virtual learning Tuesday following the storm, the Jefferson County EMA tweeted.

Storm system expected to dump snow in other states

A tornado warning was issued Monday night for Jefferson County, Alabama, NWS Birmingham tweeted. The agency later issued tornado warnings and watches for several counties as the line of storms moved northeast through the state.

The storm system is now expected to dump significant snow from the Central Plains to the mid-Atlantic Coast through Tuesday night.

The deepest snow will pile up across Iowa. Some snow will be very heavy, with rates of up to 2 inches an hour, the Weather Prediction Center said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19601229
Hinds18712386
Harrison16569277
Rankin12637263
Jackson12483219
Lee9671160
Madison9420196
Jones7914146
Forrest7159136
Lauderdale6798226
Lowndes6014137
Lamar585880
Lafayette5716113
Washington5182129
Bolivar4599121
Oktibbeha440391
Panola428392
Pearl River4138128
Warren4122113
Pontotoc408068
Marshall400392
Monroe3981126
Union393673
Neshoba3777167
Lincoln3491100
Hancock341674
Leflore3363118
Sunflower317385
Tate301574
Pike299193
Scott292868
Alcorn290760
Itawamba289072
Yazoo284962
Coahoma276367
Tippah276165
Copiah276057
Simpson272778
Prentiss268858
Leake252171
Marion251578
Wayne251541
Covington248278
Grenada246277
Adams233377
George231145
Newton226352
Winston221375
Jasper212744
Tishomingo211965
Attala206369
Chickasaw200851
Holmes181770
Clay178250
Stone171829
Tallahatchie170039
Clarke168971
Calhoun157128
Smith152431
Yalobusha143536
Greene127233
Walthall123640
Noxubee122829
Perry121434
Montgomery121338
Lawrence119521
Carroll117923
Amite110932
Webster110030
Jefferson Davis101231
Tunica98823
Claiborne97929
Benton93324
Humphreys92427
Kemper89623
Quitman77114
Franklin75619
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61927
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491849

Reported Deaths: 9869
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson707641366
Mobile35937724
Madison32307450
Tuscaloosa24024410
Montgomery22502499
Shelby21848214
Baldwin19698277
Lee14926151
Morgan13624251
Calhoun13202285
Etowah13154319
Marshall11243208
Houston10058259
Limestone9348134
Elmore9345182
Cullman8879179
St. Clair8799221
Lauderdale8588210
DeKalb8436174
Talladega7500163
Walker6509251
Jackson6483102
Autauga622890
Blount6084125
Colbert6004118
Coffee5235102
Dale4627106
Russell402930
Franklin398876
Covington3949106
Chilton386298
Escambia377472
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke343149
Chambers3399108
Dallas3397141
Pike292972
Lawrence282284
Marion281295
Winston246266
Bibb244560
Geneva238870
Marengo233755
Pickens223954
Barbour210651
Hale209068
Fayette199956
Butler195265
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe166038
Randolph163140
Washington156334
Crenshaw144054
Clay143454
Macon141643
Cleburne137139
Lamar132432
Lowndes130749
Wilcox121425
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105427
Sumter98331
Coosa88623
Greene87132
Choctaw54923
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 71°
Columbus
Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 72°
Oxford
Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 68°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather