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Officials in Madison County officials declared a major tornado emergency on Friday. The warning came after two large and destructive tornados were reported to have caused widespread damage in the city of Meridianville. A large super-cell of tornadoes hit northern Alabama early Friday, leaving at least four injured.
According to the National Weather Service, there has been extensive damage to a local high school, a prison and many other buildings. The state of emergency will continue through Friday evening but could possibly be called off by Saturday morning.
Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency said “We are aware of the damage in the Huntsville area and we have state resources ready to deploy.” The Madison County, Ala., EMA says there have been houses destroyed on Mt. Lebanon and Patterson Lane.
“The reason that it is so wide is because we’re not talking about one tornado, we’re talking about a very large super cell that spawned several smaller tornadoes and there’s possibly one very large one in there, too,” spoke Paige Colburn, emergency management officer at the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency, Amy Maxwell, Hamilton County, Tennessee, emergency management spokeswoman spoke on the Tennessee storms, ”We obviously have lots of debris, homes with roof damage, streets that are impassable that we have crews cutting down trees with chainsaws in order to get emergency vehicles through and as of now our crews are just going door to door on foot.” She stated between six and eight people were critically injured, and 10 others had minor injuries.
Earlier on in the week severe tornadoes struck parts of the Mid-West and South on Wednesday, including Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio and Lousiana. The Weather Channel reported that the greatest threat for tornadoes lies in an area from central Tennessee north through central Kentucky and into southern Indiana.
The National Weather Service gave warnings on Friday of moderate risk of severe thunderstorms and thunderstorms across much of the Ohio Valley southward into the central Gulf States. The Weather Channel alerts residents in these areas, stating they will need to prepare for more severe weather.
The death toll from the tornadoes currently stands at 13, after a 53-year old man died on Thursday. Six people died in Harrisburg, Illinois, after the small town was devastated by the “super-cell” storms. A local hospital was badly damaged,and buildings were completely destroyed as a result of the storms.
Due to the damage they inflicted, the tornado that hit Harrisburg, Illinois was classified by the National Weather Service as an EF4, the second-highest rating. The twister was 200 yards (183m) wide and generated wind speeds of up to 170mph (274km/h). Meteorologists have issued a warning that the next wave of thunderstorms could affect some of the areas damaged on Wednesday.