BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - Tornadoes causing severe damage touched down in northern Alabama on Friday, part of a parade of dangerous storms packing high winds and baseball-sized hail across the U.S. Midwest, where violent weather this week claimed 13 lives.
Search and rescue teams were dispatched to Huntsville area in the aftermath of the severe weather, according to a state emergency management official. No injuries were reported.
“There are power outages and power poles down,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Darden.
“There were two storms that moved across the area, very close together, almost attached to each other,” he said.
The path of the storm near Huntsville was similar to a devastating tornado on April 27 last year, part of an outbreak that killed 364 people across Alabama and Mississippi that month.
High winds damaged the roofs of two dormitories housing about 500 inmates at Limestone Correctional Facility, Alabama officials said. The storm also damaged some perimeter fencing, an out building and a canteen. Authorities said they rushed additional security to the facility.
Forecasters warned that conditions were ripe for another round of tornadoes later on Friday, leading authorities in Alabama and Tennessee to close schools and put out alerts.
The Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center forecast the “development of a few strong, long-track tornadoes over parts of extreme southern Indiana, central Kentucky and northern middle Tennessee” later Friday.
Other states likely to see heavy weather were Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia and Illinois, forecasters said.
Harrisburg, Illinois, was hit before dawn on Wednesday by a powerful tornado one notch below the most powerful twisters, killing six people and levelling a residential neighbourhood and a strip mall.
Another three died in Missouri, and heavily damaged the music mecca of Branson, and one man died in Kansas.
Storms dropped golf ball- to baseball-sized hail on Missouri on Friday, with St. Louis and Nashville also pummelled by hail storms. Hail-producing storms also struck in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina, meteorologists said.
Reporting By Bruce Olson, Verna Gates, Tim Ghianni, Peggy Gargis, David Bailey, James Kelleher; Writing by Andrew Stern; editing by Paul Thomasch and Philip Barbara