DURHAM, N.C. – A line of rare winter tornadoes roared through Alabama early Monday morning, ripping apart homes and businesses and prompting the state’s governor to declare a state of emergency. Two people were reported killed.
The tornadoes combined with powerful thunderstorms and straight-line winds to topple trees and power lines, injuring at least 100 people. Windows were blown out of homes and cars as people were roused from sleep in the early morning hours.
Some tornadoes struck near neighborhoods ravaged by twisters that killed 240 people last spring, said Jennifer Ardis, press secretary for Gov. Robert Bentley. She said authorities were trying to confirm reports of a total of four people killed in the storms.
“We have reports of damage from at least seven counties,” Ardis said.
Officials postponed a meeting previously scheduled for Monday to discuss the state’s response to last spring’s tornadoes.
Emergency workers were searching for victims and clearing trees and debris that blocked some people from leaving their homes. A 16-year-old girl was killed in the town of Clay and an 82-year-old man died in Oak Grove in north-central Alabama, according to local officials.
The worst damage was in Jefferson County, where Birmingham was devastated by last spring’s tornadoes, and in Chilton County in the center of the state.
Tornadoes were also reported in Arkansas, with hail and high winds whipping through Tennessee, Mississippi and Illinois.