Tornado causes 'significant damage' in Selma, Alabama, mayor says

A tornado hit parts of Alabama Thursday, causing “significant damage” in Selma, the city’s mayor said.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. asked residents to “please refrain from traveling the roadways and stay away from down power lines.”

Emergency response crews were already on the ground to provide assistance.

The National Weather Service’s Birmingham branch asked that people be respectful of areas that have reportedly been hit hard by the tornadoes, noting that it may take the agency “many days” to assess the extent of the storms impact.

“And please be patient with us as we survey the damage and try to categorize something that may be difficult to describe,” the agency said in a statement. “There will be many long days ahead for everyone responding to the areas that experienced these storms, and even longer days for those directly impacted.”

A tornado in Selma, Alabama, on Jan. 12, 2023.Caleb LeGrone via Facebook

“We are asking everyone to stay calm and stay in place until further notice,” city officials said in a Facebook post.

Most city streets are closed due to downed power lines and trees, according to another post from the city.

“All schools have reported that students are at school and safe. It is not safe at this point to go to the schools or allow the children to leave the school,” officials said.

Nearly 50% of Dallas County, where Selma is located, was without power just after 3 p.m. ET, according to PowerOutage.US.

A Twitter user posted video of what appeared to be a funnel cloud touching down from their vantage point on Interstate 65.

Autauga Emergency Management, located in Prattsville, has received reports of multiple injuries and damaged homes, NBC affiliate WFSA reported.

Flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta have been ordered to ground stop due to thunderstorms, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.

A spokesperson for the airport said in a statement to NBC News that the situation is being monitored and there has been minimal impact on Hartsfield-Jackson.

In Morgan County, the sheriff’s office said numerous buildings were damaged during a storm. About 10 people were injured but none appear to be life-threatening. Decatur, located in Morgan County, saw overturned trucks and multiple downed trees. Police said there were minor injuries.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham issued a tornado warning for northeast Chambers County.

“This is a large and extremely dangerous tornado on the ground. Please seek shelter immediately if in the polygon,” the service tweeted just before 2:30 p.m.

A tornado was also confirmed in Barbour County at 3:30 p.m. CT, it said, urging people to take shelter immediately.

]There have been at least 19 reported tornadoes across the state as a line of violent thunderstorms ripped through the Southeast. Major damage has also been reported in Hale, Bibb, Sumter and Autauga counties.  

About 24 million people remain in the risk area for severe storms across Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. There is a higher risk in those areas for tornadoes and severe tornado watches.

Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, Greenville, South Carolina, Knoxville, Tennessee, Lexington, Kentucky, Montgomery, Alabama, and Nashville, Tennessee could be impacted.

In addition to tornadoes, storms could produce large hail and damaging wind gusts up to 75 mph.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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