A series of tornadoes generated by a previous "supercell" of storms hit Alabama on Thursday Subsequently, they made its way to Georgia early Friday, killing at least five amid the ruins of shattered homes, downed trees, and seriously damaged businesses.
On Thursday, A powerful storm traveled about 100 miles (160 kilometers) route to Alabama, leaving a trail of destruction, officials said. For Atlanta, the National Weather Service said a "dangerous and fast-moving" tornado swept through some of the southern suburbs of the metropolitan area just after midnight.
As thousands of people were left without power and faced with the task of removing debris and rebuilding, the extreme weather that swept through parts of Alabama and the region marked the scariest part of spring in the southeastern United States: the season tornadoes.
While Alabama appeared to be bearing Thursday's tornadoes' brunt, forecasters warned of dangerous thunderstorms, flash floods, and potential hurricanes from eastern Mississippi to western Georgia and heading north into Tennessee and Kentucky. Additionally, flash flood warnings and alerts were extended to the west of Carolinas overnight.
The deaths were confirmed in Calhoun County in eastern Alabama. One of the multiple tornadoes sparked off a "supercell" of storms that then made its way to Georgia, said meteorologist John DeBlock of the National Weather Service in Birmingham.
Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said the tornado cut across the county on a diagonal, hitting primarily rural areas, perhaps keeping the death toll from getting higher.
"Five people lost their lives, and for those families, things will never be the same again," Wade said at a late-night news conference. Our thoughts, Our hearts, and our prayers reach these families, and we will do our enough to let them know that we love them.
Pat Lindsey, a resident of Ohatchee, the worst-hit town in the county, told The Associated Press that a neighbor of his died after a tornado destroyed his mobile home.
"He was a great person," Lindsey noted.
Farther west, large parts of Shelby County near Birmingham - the state's largest city - was severely damaged. Images taken by civilians using drones and published on social networks showed roofs torn from manor houses and the winds destroying some and leaving others intact.
In Pelham's city, James Dunaway said he initially ignored the tornado warning when it reached him by phone. But it wasn't long before he could hear the tornado approaching, so he left the upper bedroom where he watched television and headed down a hallway just before the storm ripped away from the roof and side parts of his house, totally leaving the breech exposed. His three vehicles were rendered useless.
"I am very fortunate to be alive," Dunaway, 75, a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Pelham authorities released a video showing three giant trees blocking roads and power poles leaning threateningly over debris-strewn streets.
In Centerville's town, south of Tuscaloosa, Cindy Smitherman and her family and neighbors took cover in their underground shelter from the storms as a tornado passed over their home.
I'm just glad we're alive," he said.