PADUCAH, Ky. – The Latest on severe weather in the South (all times local):
Severe weather moving through Alabama caused heavy damage in parts of Cullman and Lawrence counties and moderate damage in Blount County, but no injuries have been reported.
The National Weather Service reports a possible tornado Thursday downed trees and threw debris from Cullman to northeast of Holly Pond but meteorologist Chelly Amin says it’s too early to confirm whether a twister actually touched down. She says teams will assess the areas Friday before making an official notification.
Amin says there were reports of moderate roof damage to a few structures in Cullman and reports of several trees down in the Bankhead National Forest in southern Lawrence County.
Several central and north Alabama counties remain under a tornado watch.
Kentucky State Police say a state of emergency has been declared in an extreme western county where a tornado spread damage around a 5-square-mile (13-square kilometer) area, knocking down power lines and covering roadways in debris.
A statement from police says one injury has been reported in McCracken County from the storm. Emergency crews are going door-to-door in the area to check on residents.
Authorities said buildings were damaged, including a preschool. Forty students were inside but none were reported hurt.
Several roadways are shut down due to debris and down power lines including portions of U.S. 62 and Kentucky 286.
The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center for those hit by the storm.
State transportation officials are asking motorists to avoid traveling in some areas of western Kentucky due to damage from a reported tornado.
A statement from Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd says motorists should avoid traveling in western McCracken County and southeastern Ballard County for at least the remainder of Thursday.
Todd says storm debris has blocked areas along U.S. 62 from Kentucky 305 to Kentucky 286 in McCracken County. Todd said there are report of pieces of grain bins, barns, homes and other debris in the roadway and some of it can’t be cleared until utility crews arrive to cut power. He said there are additional areas of downed trees and power lines reported in the West Paducah area.
Todd says motorists should avoid US 62 and KY 286 to allow emergency responders to work in the area unimpeded.
Earlier, officials at the National Weather Service in Paducah tweeted that a tornado blew past their office.
Weather officials in Kentucky say a tornado has blown past their office.
The National Weather Service in Paducah tweeted Thursday morning, “TORNADO JUST MISSED OUR OFFICE IN WEST PADUCAH. TAKE SHELTER NOW IF YOU’RE IN PADUCAH!!!!” The tweet was posted at 9:30 a.m., Central Daylight Time.
There was no immediate word on any damage.
Weather forecasters say numerous severe storms are possible beginning Thursday afternoon in the Tennessee Valley region and as far south as the northern Birmingham area.
Officials said schools are closing early in north Alabama because of the severe weather possibility.
Forecasters say winds up to 60 mph are possible along with isolated tornadoes and hail.
The state is on the southern end of a storm system that pummeled the central United States.