The death toll from a series of devastating tornadoes that ripped through Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky Thursday night has risen to nine, with authorities warning it could still rise.
The unusual storms made their way through several counties, blazing trails 20 miles wide in some cases.
At least 30 tornadoes were counted, some reaching 165 mph.
Seven people died in Alabama and two in Georgia — a government official surveying the damage and another five-year-old boy who was hit by a falling tree in a car. The adult he was with in Butts County near Jackson Lake suffered serious injuries and was taken to the hospital.
Trees were uprooted and homes destroyed in Selma, Alabama, on Friday after a tornado ripped through the city Thursday night
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Friday morning his state had had a “tragic night.”
“The storm sadly moved across our state, it was a tragic night and morning in our state,” he said.
“It’s a very dangerous environment.”
The storm hit Griffin, south of Atlanta, with winds damaging a shopping district, local news outlets reported. A hobbyist lobby store partially lost its roof, and at least one car was overturned in the parking lot of a nearby Walmart.
Damage was also reported west of downtown Atlanta in Douglas County and Cobb County, with the Cobb County government releasing a damage report showing a crumbling concrete block wall at a warehouse in suburban Austell.
In Kentucky, videos and photos shared on social media showed fierce winds as the tornadoes approached.
The National Weather Service in Louisville confirmed an EF-1 tornado hit Mercer County and said crews were surveying damage in a handful of other counties.
Worst-hit was Alabama, with Autauga County between Selma and Montgomery, with costs counted Friday.
A huge fallen tree in front of the Henderson House after a tornado outbreak in Selma, Alabama, on Friday. During the Civil War following the Battle of Selma, the property, built in 1855, was occupied by Wilson’s Raiders and used as a hospital for Union soldiers
Debris and fallen trees litter the grounds outside of Sturdivant Hall in Selma, Alabama
People work to board up a roof and windows of a damaged house in Selma on Friday
Around 40 homes were destroyed in Selma by the tornadoes that devastated much of the region between Montgomery and Selma
People burn debris from their homes while cleaning up after the tornado in Old Kingston, Pratville, Alabama
A man with a chainsaw tries to clear debris from a house in Selma on Friday after the devastating series of storms
The National Weather Service’s social media accounts warned Alabama residents to seek shelter immediately amid the “life-threatening situation.”
Forty homes were destroyed, said Ernie Baggett, the director of the Emergency Management Agency for Autauga County.
He said the damage was unprecedented.
“It’s complete devastation,” he said.
“There are some, a few of our county roads, that have just a house or two left that might be habitable.”
In Selma, a town of about 18,000, a tornado sliced a wide path through downtown, where brick buildings collapsed, oak trees were uprooted, cars lay on their side and power lines dangled.
Plumes of thick black smoke rose from a blazing fire over the city.
James Spann, a meteorologist and Weather Brains host, shared video of the tornado hurtling toward the city as people stood outside a Walmart and watched in shock.
Selma Mayor James Perkins said no deaths had been reported but several people were seriously injured.
First responders continued to survey the damage and officials were hoping to get an aerial view of the city Friday morning.
“We have a lot of downed power lines,” he said. “There is a lot of danger on the roads.”
Traffic lights and power lines are down following a tornado outbreak in Selma
A factory roof is sheared off Friday after Thursday’s tornadoes in Selma and the debris is scattered
At a tax office in Selma, Deborah Brown said she and her colleagues had to rush to shelter when they saw a tornado rushing down the street.
“We could have gone, y’all,” Brown said in a Facebook video.
“We had to take cover. We had to run and jump in the closet.’
An overturned car, upended by the wind, is seen Friday after last night’s storms in Pratville, Alabama
Locals inspect remains of homes reduced to rubble in Pratville
The top half of a house is fully exposed in Selma as people inspect the damage on Friday
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey visited Friday and said she was shocked by the extent of the devastation.
She said it was “a lot worse than anything I imagined”.
She added: “Roofs are just gone, trees look like toothpicks.”
At least 33,400 homes and businesses in Alabama and Georgia were without power as of Friday afternoon.
What is a tornado?
A tornado is a narrow, rapidly spinning column of air around an intense center of low pressure that descends from cumulonimbus clouds, also known as thunderclouds, according to the Met Office.
Tornadoes are narrow in width, typically up to 100 meters (328 ft), but damage can be concentrated and severe.
As they develop, funnel-shaped clouds spread from the base of the cloud and when they reach the ground, a tornado forms.
A tornado is a narrow, rapidly spinning column of air around an intense center of low pressure that descends from cumulonimbus clouds, also known as thunderclouds, according to the Met Office. In the picture a tornado over a field
Tornadoes can have wind speeds of up to 483 kilometers per hour (300 miles per hour), and when they hit the ground they can destroy trees and buildings in their path and fling heavy objects like cars through the air like a Frisbee.
Tornadoes that occur over water are called waterspouts, and those that don’t touch the ground are called a funnel cloud.
The highest recorded surface wind speed of 486 kilometers per hour (302 miles per hour) is the result of the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak.
The greatest distance a single tornado traveled from Ellington, Missouri to Princeton, Indiana on March 18, 1925 was 352 kilometers (219 miles).
Most tornadoes in a single year were recorded in 2004. There were 1,820.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11633835/At-NINE-killed-30-tornados-165mph-ripped-apart-Alabama-Georgia-Kentucky.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 At least NINE have been killed by 30 tornadoes traveling at speeds up to 160 mph that have torn apart Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky