Authorities rushed to aid Alabama residents on Thursday, as “violent,” long-track tornadoes savage the state.
Just before 2 p.m. Thursday, a tornado was spotted in Vandiver, Alabama, outside of Birmingham. Hours earlier, another showed up in Moundville, outside of Tuscaloosa. A PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) tornado watch will remain in effect until at least 8 p.m. Thursday as Alabamians seek shelter from the destructive storms.
Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia are also in the danger zone of the EF-4 or EF-5 rated funnels. The tornadoes are “violent,” meaning winds that exceed 166 mph, and “long-track,” meaning they are expected to run across the ground for over 25 miles.
Eagle Point neighborhood here in Alabama pic.twitter.com/ykQ6Qux2Qb
— Ginger Zee (@Ginger_Zee) March 25, 2021
Already, photos are emerging of the devastation left in the storm’s wake. ABC News Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee posted a brief video on Twitter Thursday afternoon. “These are those raw moments, when we show up, and the emergency folks just got the people in this house out,” Zee said, turning the camera toward the wreckage of what was once a house. “A lot of talk of the homes taken — this one, crushed.”
Sheriff John Samaniego told ABC they are responding to the crisis as best they can. “Our priority at the moment is identifying those citizens in need of emergency medical attention,” Samaniego said. “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.”
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency for 46 counties, along with a delay in the Alabama National Guard vaccination clinic in Hale County. In Mississippi, more than two dozen have already taken shelter at a Lowndes County elementary school. The Lowndes County emergency management director told ABC News two other schools, able to house approximately 400 people, are opening as well.
Even outside of direct impact with the tornadoes, severe storms — potentially including 80 m.p.h. winds, and “very large hail” — are expected to blow through Kentucky, Mississippi, northern Alabama, and from Nashville to Knoxville, Tennessee. Atlanta, along with areas of the mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley, will likely see similar storms by midnight.