The South braces for tornado outbreak

By Meg Wagner, Judson Jones and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 9:57 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021
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5:13 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

More than 55 million people remain under severe storm threat from Pennsylvania to the Gulf Coast

From CNN's Dave Hennen

Residents survey damage to homes after a tornado touched down south of Birmingham, Alabama, in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes on March 25.
Residents survey damage to homes after a tornado touched down south of Birmingham, Alabama, in the Eagle Point community damaging multiple homes on March 25. Butch Dill/AP

There are more than 55 million people who remain under threat for severe storms from Pennsylvania to the Gulf Coast as tornadic storms will continue well into the evening.

A level 5 of 5 “high risk” continues for much of northern Alabama, into southern Tennessee, including Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville.

A large level 4 of 5 risk covers more than 5 million people and includes Nashville and Chattanooga, where tornadoes are also possible.

More on the storms:

  • There have been seven tornado reports so far, all in Alabama, with damage and injuries reported in the Birmingham metropolitan area.
  • The same long track supercell thunderstorm continues to track east, and is now moving into Georgia, where tornado warnings remain in effect.
  • Other tornadic storms are moving into western Alabama out of Mississippi
  • A PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) tornado watch remains in effect over portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia until 8 p.m. CT.
  • A new tornado watch has just been issued that includes the cities of Nashville, Evansville and Louisville, until 11 p.m. CT.


5:23 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Storm damage spotted in a subdivision near Birmingham

Kelli McLaughlin and her father took the following photos of damage seen in the Eagle Point subdivision near Birmingham, Alabama, today.

McLaughlin said that her family is safe after the storm came through the area.

CNN affiliate WBMA meteorologist James Spann —who has been covering weather in Alabama for decades — informed viewers during live severe storm coverage that a tornado damaged his home in Shelby County. Spann said he found out via a text from his wife. 

Details on the damage weren't immediately available.

4:46 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

2 people with injuries hospitalized after getting extracted from their homes near Birmingham

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

At least two people were transported to the hospital after being trapped in damaged buildings in the Eagle Point area of Birmingham, Alabama, according to

Cahaba Valley Fire Capt. Grant Wilkerson told the newspaper that they have had to extricate people trapped in their homes.

So far, two people have been transported with injuries, Wilkerson said.

The exact number of injuries and extent is not known at this time.

5:23 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Damage reports from tornado near Ohatchee, Alabama

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

There are damage reports out of Ohatchee, Alabama, as the storm still continues to move throughout the county, according to Calhoun County Emergency Management spokesperson Tiffany DeBoer.

DeBoer said there are reports of damages to buildings, trees down and power lines down throughout Ohatchee.

There are currently no reports of injuries, DeBoer added.

Ohatchee is 59 miles east of Birmingham.

5:23 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Major damage reported in one Alabama city, police say

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch and Dave Alsup

Police in Helena, Alabama, are reporting major damage in the city as result of a tornado that came through. 

All phone lines into the police department are down, the department tweeted.

Helena is 20 miles south of Birmingham. 

CNN has reached out to the Jefferson and Shelby County offices of emergency management for more information.

CNN meteorologist Tom Sater examines early images out of Helena with Brooke Baldwin. Watch:

5:23 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

Crews in one Alabama town are assessing tornado damage

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

From Pelham Police Department
From Pelham Police Department

Crews are assessing damage in Pelham, Alabama, after a tornado tore through the town Thursday afternoon damaging numerous houses and the city's civic complex, a tweet from the Pelham Police Department said.

Police said there is "extensive damage" in the Crosscreek community.

The department said on Twitter that utility lines are down in the northern part of the city along Highways 21 and 119.

Police are asking people to stay off the road as they continue to assess the damage.


Pelham is about 20 miles south of Birmingham. Strong storm lines and tornadoes have been reported in the area.

2:44 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

How to stay safe if your area is affected by today's tornadoes

From CNN's Jennifer Gray

Tornado warnings are in effect for parts of Alabama and Mississippi as the South braces for severe weather.

You and your family should have a plan in place in case there is ever a tornado warning issued for your area.

Here are some quick tips on how to stay safe if your area is under a tornado warning:

  • Have a small interior room or closet on the lowest level of your home designated as your tornado safe place.There should be no windows in the room and it should be away from any outside walls.
  • It's a good idea to have a flashlight and a way to receive alerts while in the room. This could be in the form of a weather radio or your smartphone.
  • Make sure every family member has a helmet and shoes in the room.
2:42 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

A tornado emergency has been issued. It's basically a tornado warning on steroids.

The first tornado emergency of the day was just issued in Alabama.

What this means: This is the third type of tornado alert that trumps them all. The tornado emergency was added in 1999 and it's basically a tornado warning on steroids.

If a tornado is in progress and will have a significant impact to human life, with catastrophic destruction to property, a tornado emergency will be issued.

2:12 p.m. ET, March 25, 2021

A confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado

Storms are starting to produce tornadoes across the South. 

A radar confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado is just southwest of Birmingham, Alabama.