MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – A possible tornado flattened a downtown store and ripped the facade off a metal building across Mobile Bay early Friday, and forecasters said more storms could hit an area extending south from Alabama to the coast of Virginia.
High winds opened a Family Dollar store in a crowded Mobile neighborhood and damaged an adjacent supermarket before dawn, around the time tornado warnings covered the area, media reported. Another building was badly damaged to the east across Daphne Bay, where trees were snapped.
No injuries were reported and the Storm Prediction Center said a tornado may have caused the damage in Mobile.
Mobile was near the southwest end of a front extending to the Virginia coast where forecasters said severe thunderstorms were possible. Some 24 million people live in the region, which includes Atlanta; Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina; and Norfolk, Virginia.
Previous storms spawned multiple tornadoes that ripped through Texas and Oklahoma, causing damage to a school, a marijuana farm and other structures.
No serious injuries were reported from Wednesday night’s tornadoes, but the system brought flooding to parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, and stormier weather set in Thursday.
Extensive damage was reported in the town of Seminole, Oklahoma, about 60 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, where Governor Kevin Stitt said damage assessments were underway after touring the area Thursday.
“(We) get all the resources and supplies the city wants and needs,” including generators, Stitt said. “Thank the Lord that no one was hurt.”
The National Weather Service said it found damage in Seminole from an EF2 tornado, which has winds of up to 135 mph (217 km/h).
Wednesday and Thursday’s storms were the latest in several rounds of severe weather across the central United States. Last week, a tornado damaged more than 1,000 buildings in the Wichita suburb of Andover, Kansas. Three University of Oklahoma meteorology students have died in a car crash while returning from storm chasing.
After the threat passes over the southeast, more storms will continue over the weekend in the Central Plains and Midwest, the weather service said.
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