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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 9:44 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: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
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Hi: 85° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 84°
Columbus
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Hi: 84° Lo: 56°
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Oxford
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Starkville
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Feels Like: 84°
Today, as we head out the door, temperatures will be in the low 60s. Going into the afternoon we will see temperatures hitting the mid-80s, definitely a warmer day than the previous few. Some passing clouds can be expected but no rain to start our work week.
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