Watch: Severe weather batters the South overnight as storms move east

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (NewsNation Now) — Forecasters warned nearly 16 million people across the South could face powerful storms and potential tornados Thursday after a wave of storms pounded the region, leaving a trail of damage.

The National Weather Service advised residents to take extra precautions Thursday after the South was hit with nearly two dozen tornadoes and downpours Wednesday.

Scattered severe thunderstorms are expected Thursday for portions of eastern Georgia, through the Carolinas into extreme southeast Virginia, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. All severe hazards are possible. Other isolated severe storms are possible from southern Ohio into the central Appalachians.

A cold front was expected to pass overnight with the worst expected to come Thursday, forecasters said.

Possible tornadoes knocked down trees, toppled power lines and damaged homes in the Alabama communities of Burnsville and Moundville, where power was out and trees blocked a main highway. NewsNation affiliate WIAT reported at least 15 possible tornadoes in Central Alabama alone. The severe weather in Alabama is expected to make its way to Georgia and South Carolina Thursday.

Early Thursday there were no storm warnings across the metro Atlanta area but intense lightning, heavy rain and strong wind gusts of up to 40-50 mph were moving through the area. Nearly all of South Carolina is under moderate risk of severe storms. 

Additional damage was reported in Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi, where video showed an apparent tornado at Brookhaven. High winds blew down signs and trees in northeast Texas, and hailstones the size of baseballs were reported near the Alabama-Mississippi line, the weather service said.

A region of about 3 million stretching from southeastern Arkansas and northeastern Louisiana across Mississippi into Alabama was at high risk for the possibility of intense tornadoes that travel for miles, winds that could reach hurricane strength and hail the size of baseballs, the Storm Prediction Center said.

More than 70,000 homes and businesses were without power from Texas to Alabama, and radar showed additional storms moving across the region as initial cleanup work began.

Current watches and warnings:

Storms were possible all the way from northern Texas in the west to northern Illinois and as far east as the Carolinas, forecasters said, and the weather service issued more than 50 tornado warnings in Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Tornado watches included parts of seven states.

For more information about tornado safety, visit the National Weather Service’s website.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliates around the country contributed to this report.

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