The destruction seems to have stayed out of Calhoun County, however.
Marisa Brimer of the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency said a tornado had been spotted in Talladega County near Alpine, but by the time the storm that caused it reached extreme southern Calhoun County, the tornado itself was gone. Only swirling clouds and strong winds remained.
No damage reports had come into her office, Brimer said.
Rain continued on toward midnight, however, with another severe thunderstorm alert sounded around 10:30-10:45 p.m. to last until 11:15 p.m.
In southwestern Alabama the story was different. Gov. Robert Bentley said late Friday night that one person has been killed in the storms in Marengo County, and that multiple injuries have been reported in Sumter, Greene and Marengo counties.
The governor declared a state of emergency for all Alabama counties. Tornadoes touched down in the Alabama counties of Monroe, Greene, Marengo, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Choctaw, the governor said in a statement.
An apparent tornado damaged a motel in Tuscaloosa and struck an oil change business, blowing the plastic out of large signs and leaving roads crisscrossed with power poles and trees in places. Sam Packwood said he and his son saw what appeared to be a twister drop out of the sky near Bama Mini Storage, where he works.
“It was a dark funnel coming down,” Packwood in a telephone interview. “The sirens went off and all; it was pretty exciting for 20 or 30 minutes. I hope nobody got hurt.”
No injuries were immediately reported.
School systems all over central and west Alabama released students early as a precaution. East of Birmingham, promoters postponed an ARCA race at the Talladega Superspeedway, where thousands of people were camping in open fields and getting ready for three days of races.
“It is a dilemma when you have 35,000 people camping on your site,” track chairman Grant Lynch told WBRC-TV.
Tents covered acres and acres of soggy fields near the raceway. The dreary weather didn’t stop the race fans from having Friday night cookouts and camp fires, and many of them spent the evening socializing.
Track officials said the race would begin at 8 a.m. today, after the storm system passed.
Statewide, about 29,500 homes were without power, said Alabama Power spokesperson Keisa Sharpe.
One person was pinned inside a house that was hit by a large tree in Sumter County, but emergency crews had difficulty getting into the community, located near the Mississippi line. “There are trees down to the point where roads are closed,” said Margaret A. Bishop-Gulley, Sumter County’s emergency management director.
In Marengo County, emergency management director Kevin McKinney said trees were toppled in a rural area southwest of Linden after a possible tornado moved through the county around lunchtime.
“There are some trees on some houses, a roof off a house,” he said.
In Tuscaloosa, the mayor announced that Friday evening’s concert by the country group Sugarland at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre was cancelled because of the dangerous storms.
Storm spotters reported possible tornado damage in seven west Alabama counties. Trees also are blown down as far north as Colbert County in the Tennessee Valley, and authorities reported minor street flooding and jail across the northern tier of counties.
Click here to visit the NWS warning page.