Apr 28, 2014 10:01 PM by Connie Murphy
Tornadoes killed at least two people in Alabama and caused serious damage in Mississippi, authorities said, as the Deep South absorbed the second punch of a storm system that killed 16 people in the region over the weekend.
Heavy damage was reported after a tornado touched down in Limestone County in northern Alabama, the county Emergency Management Agency told NBC News. At least two people were killed in the town of Athens, Holly Hollman, a spokeswoman for the city, told NBC News.
The National Weather Service said the "large, violent" twister directly hit the Clements Fire Department shortly after 5 p.m. Tornado warnings lighted up the weather map in red Monday night in counties from eastern Mississippi across northern Alabama and into southeastern Tennessee as far east as metro Chattanooga.
At 9:30 p.m. ET, a major tornado was on the ground in Lincoln County, Tenn., near the Alabama line, the National Weather Service reported. It said the twister was tossing debris thousands of feet in the air and was expected to cause "catastrophic damage" in parts of Lincoln and close-by Franklin and Moore counties.
"This is an extremely dangerous tornado with complete devastation likely," the agency said.That twister and several others that slammed northern Alabama on Monday night were spawned by the same weather system that left extensive damage across central Mississippi earlier in the day.
"We're very fortunate that we have no reports of deaths in our city," Mayor Jason Shelton told The Weather Channel shortly after the twister - one of at least five confirmed to have hit the state Monday - touched ground in Tupelo, Miss., and tracked northward.
Shelton said later that there was "significant property damage," and the city was under an 8 p.m. curfew as emergency crews went door to door to assess damage and potential injuries.
North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo treated 24 people, 20 of whom have been released, the hospital told NBC News. "Please say a prayer for all those affected and our law enforcement officials," Shelton said.