Southern States Battered by Another Round of Tornadoes, More Storms Coming for New Year's

Harsh weather including storms and tornadoes returned to the South this week, with areas of Alabama and Georgia reporting significant damage, as more storms are forecast for the New Year's weekend.

Towns in the region, including Winfield, Alabama, and Bainbridge, Georgia, reported damage to homes and other buildings and downed power lines and trees, but no significant injuries have yet been reported, according to the Associated Press.

Tornado warnings or watches were reported Wednesday across parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The storm system is moving east and continues to threaten areas of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.

There is currently a risk of severe storms across the South over Friday and Saturday, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Winfield, Alabama, reportedly saw damage including collapsed walls and roofs that had been torn from buildings, with damage strewn into roads, Police Chief Brett Burleson said in a statement reported by local outlet WBRC TV.

"If you don't have to come down here, don't," Burleson told WBRC. "There are lines down, glass in the road, nails."

A National Weather Service crew was scheduled to survey damage caused by storms in Bainbridge, Georgia, after the service's Tallahassee, Florida, office said "a likely tornado" caused damage in the area.

National Weather Service crews usually survey damage in storm-damaged areas to confirm whether damage was caused by tornadoes.

Kentucky, Tornado, Storms, South, Alabama, Georgia
Weeks after tornadoes battered the Midwest and South, several southern states saw more severe storms in recent days cause damage, with more storms forecast for New Year's weekend. Above, heavy damage is seen after a tornado swept through the area on December 11 in Mayfield, Kentucky. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

"Downtown Winfield is a dangerous area," the Marion County Sheriff's Department said in a statement on social media. "There are confirmed live power lines down."

Police ordered people to stay out of the downtown area as officers and sheriff's deputies worked to assess the damage in the town, located about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Birmingham, Alabama.

In northeastern Alabama's Etowah County, an emergency manager reported that a pole barn was destroyed and at least two homes were damaged.

The Georgia storm damaged the roof and sign of a convenience store, uprooted a tree and damaged a carport, the town's public safety office said in a statement.

The southern storms come as residents in the Pacific Northwest endure bitter cold and unseasonably frigid weather in the waning days of 2021. Emergency shelters have been opened in Washington and Oregon as forecasters said the extreme cold from an arctic blast that blew in Sunday could last until the weekend.

On Thursday, heavy snow halted travel on a large portion of the main east-west highway across Washington state and snarled traffic in the Seattle and Portland, Oregon, metro areas.

Authorities closed about 80 miles (129 kilometers) of Interstate 90 over the Cascade Mountains "due to near zero visibility and adverse road conditions." The highway was closed from about 4:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and most vehicles were required to have chains.

In California, snow brought traffic to a halt on a major highway high in the mountains north of Los Angeles early Thursday as the last in a series of December storms that walloped the state moved through. The section of Interstate 5 was shut down before dawn, the California Highway Patrol said.

Mudslides, debris flows and rock falls caused localized problems on many other roads. The Southern California city of Malibu tweeted that firefighters and lifeguards brought 22 people to safety from a flooded campground near Leo Carrillo State Beach.

To the north, residents in mountain communities were digging out, with reports of major tree and power line damage in places including the state's Foresthill and Nevada City areas, both northeast of Sacramento. Thousands of residents remained without power amid warnings that some could be without lights and heat for another week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.