Storms bring reported tornado to county

Published 7:18 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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Representatives of the National Weather Service are expected in Pike County on Wednesday to review potential storm damage from a reported tornado on Tuesday.

“We had report of a tornado in the Shellhorn area and near County Road 1122,” said Herb Reeves, Pike County EMA director. “Also, the weather service had reports of damage in the Sanfield area, but we found no damage out there.”

The storms blew through Pike County about 10:45 a.m., prompting a tornado warning for northern Pike County. Several people reported seeing a tornado, though Reeves said officials have yet to confirm those locations.

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In Birmingham, an apparent tornado slammed into an Alabama neighborhood, shattering more than a dozen homes Tuesday while people were hunkered down inside because of the coronavirus outbreak, as storms caused damage from Mississippi to Georgia.

Near the Alabama-Georgia line in Eufaula, a midday twister pulled the roofs off homes in a neighborhood near the Country Club of Alabama. The area was left littered with pieces of about 15 houses and trees, but Mayor Jack Tibbs said only one minor injury was reported.

“I was really expecting it to be worse with the coronavirus with people at home, but it wasn’t,” Tibbs said in a telephone interview.

Tibbs said there was “no doubt” a twister was to blame based on the severity of the damage, and forecasters said photos and radar showed a tornado in the area at the time.

The National Weather Service reported “considerable” damage several hours earlier in George County, Mississippi, where emergency management director Nancy Smith said trees hit at least two rural homes but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

“The dispatchers are still busy answering all the calls coming in,” she said. Utility crews were out working to replace broken power poles within hours.

Multiple trees were down across central Alabama, including Birmingham’s southern suburbs. A barn was destroyed in rural east Alabama, the weather service reported, and video showed debris swirling around a tornado on the ground near the city airport in Troy.

More than 50,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, where the weather service said winds up to 60 mph (97 kph) were possible. Scattered damage extended as far south as northern Florida.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.