WEATHER

At least 1 killed and nearly 30 injured after a large tornado ripped through Birmingham area

Jan 26, 2021, 7:38 AM
Birmingham Tornado...
A tornado tore through the Birmingham area on January 25 leaving significant damage. Credit: Courtesy Cody Faile

    (CNN) — At least one person is dead and dozens injured amid a trail of destruction after a tornado described as “large and extremely dangerous” tore through the Birmingham, Alabama, area.

The twister ripped through a hotel Monday night and tore off part of a church’s roof.

About 30 people in Fultondale were injured, the city’s fire chief said Tuesday morning.

“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.

Power lines fell on Interstate 65, causing accidents, he said.

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.

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.

‘We will have a long day ahead’

A Hampton Inn in Fultondale, just north of Birmingham, suffered major damage, video from CNN affiliate WVTM shows.

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 the city.

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.

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At least 1 killed and nearly 30 injured after a large tornado ripped through Birmingham area