March 17 (UPI) — Multiple tornadoes touched down in Alabama on Wednesday, causing injuries and damage as the state braced for more severe weather.
The National Weather Service said two people were injured, and one home was destroyed and four others damaged northwest of Campbell, Ala., on Wednesday evening.
Tornadoes were spotted in the towns of Brookwood, Burnsville and Silas as well as other areas beginning in the afternoon.
Early in the day, the Storm Prediction Center designated much of Alabama, including the major cities of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, a “high risk” area, stating the designation “is reserved for when high confidence exists in widespread coverage of severe weather with embedded instances of extreme severe (i.e., violent tornadoes or very damaging convective wind events).”
As of Wednesday evening, a tornado watch issued for parts of Alabama and Mississippi was set to remain in effect until 3 a.m. CDT. Portions of northeastern Oklahoma, northwestern Arkansas and southwestern Missouri were placed under a tornado watch until 8 p.m. CDT.
On Tuesday evening, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency for all counties in the state, prompting the University of Alabama, University of North Alabama and dozens of other school districts to close.
The Alabama Department of Transportation urged motorists in the state to minimize travel until weather conditions improve, adjust speeds for weather and possible debris while traveling, be wary of emergency crews, and refrain from crossing standing water or going near downed utility lines.
“Travel on all routes in the affected areas will continue to be potentially hazardous and some routes may become impassable. Motorists are strongly advised not to travel except in case of emergency,” the agency said.