Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pray for Alabama

This may sound odd coming from an LSU graduate, but pray for Alabama. It's important.

Early reports have parts of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham devastated by a massive wedge tornado -- one about a mile wide and estimated to be either an EF-4 or EF-5 storm, meaning winds likely in excess of 200 m.p.h.

This is bad. Really, really bad.

A violent storm system spawned tornadoes that destroyed buildings and killed at least one person Wednesday afternoon in Alabama, following severe weather overnight across the South that killed at least 17 people.

Tuscaloosa officials reported at least one fatality from a tornado that then tracked north of downtown Birmingham. The metro area has a population of 1 million.

Local TV channels showed a massive black cloud, estimated at a mile wide, moving into Birmingham's northern suburbs and just missing the airport, where flights were delayed and travelers kept away from exposed areas.

The tornado had been moving along the ground for two hours after touching down near the Mississippi border.

In Tuscaloosa, cars were tossed along a commercial street and dozens of stores were destroyed or damaged.

"At first I thought it was a rain cloud, but then the tornado dropped right by the apartment complex. It was one the scariest things I've ever seen," Taryn Cook was quoted as saying by Alabama Live.

Another resident, Phil Owen, said only one store was left standing at a shopping center. "Big Lots, Full Moon Barbecue. Piles of garbage where those places were," he said. "Shell gas station across the street — all that's standing is the frame of the store."

"Please pray for us," Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said on The Weather Channel as crews fanned out to search for victims.

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