Severe Weather Alabama

A pickup truck travels along a flooded road as severe weather produces torrential rainfall Tuesday in Vestavia, Ala.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. • Relentless wind and rain continued to pummel large swaths of the South on Tuesday, causing tornadoes, sparking a flash flood emergency in Alabama and damaging homes from Texas to Virginia.

The National Weather Service issued the flash flood emergency for the Birmingham, Alabama, area at the start of rush hour, warning that torrential rains — as much as 5 inches in some areas — had already fallen and another 2 inches were possible before the storm system continued moving east.

Jefferson County Emergency Management officials urged residents to stay off the roads because so many were flooded and covered.

Strong winds blowing behind a line of storms were toppling trees across central Alabama, where soil was saturated with water. In the Birmingham suburb of Homewood, residents huddled on the second-floor balcony of an apartment complex that became flooded. Rescuers in a small boat paddled through the parking lot past submerged cars.

Parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, as well as corners of Arkansas and Georgia were at enhanced risk for the worst weather, according to the national Storm Prediction Center. That zone is home to more than 11 million people and includes the cities of Nashville, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Jackson, Miss., forecasters said.

“We’ll see all three threats as far as hail, wind and tornadoes on Tuesday,” said Mike Edmonston, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Mississippi.

The storms have been responsible for three deaths this week and, as of Tuesday evening, more than 350,000 customers were without power from Texas to Maryland, including 143,000 in Mississippi and 76,000 in Virginia, according to poweroutage.us. Alabama Power Co. reported about 93,000 homes and businessess without electricity statewide.

With warnings about possible tornadoes stretching from Louisiana eastward, dozens of school systems in Mississippi and Alabama dismissed students early so buses and cars would not have to be on the road during potentially violent weather.

A Tennessee woman died when a tree fell on her home as storms moved through the state Tuesday, Weakley County Emergency Management Director Ray Wiggington told WKRN-TV. He said at least six mobile homes were damaged by the falling tree around 4 a.m. At least eight people were injured when storms that brought tornadoes to Texas flipped tractor-trailers on an interstate and damaged structures. Three drivers were hospitalized, one with serious injuries, after their tractor-trailers overturned.

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