Southern storms bring hail, tornadoes
No severe injuries reported across region
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A band of severe thunderstorms swept across the South on Friday night, spawning several tornadoes and dumping hail the size of golf balls in areas from the Alabama Gulf Coast to middle Tennessee and north Georgia.
No serious injuries from this storm system were reported. One person was reported struck by lightning in Alabama, but further details were not known.
Storms thundered across north Atlanta shortly after the evening rush hour. Water covered all southbound lanes of one stretch of Interstate 75, one of the city's main arteries, forcing officials to close the highway and backing up traffic for miles.
The campus of a private school in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood was blanketed in ice from golf ball-size hail. Hail was reported across north Georgia, from the Alabama border to metro Atlanta.
"It was dropping hail the whole way across," said Jim Noffsinger, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service.
Authorities said at least one tornado touched down in rural Polk County, near the Alabama border, and another possible tornado was reported in neighboring Paulding County.
Alabama officials said hail the size of baseballs was reported in some areas.
"In the South areas, where we have the jet stream blast right across the region, we've had these massive supercell thunderstorms with hail up to baseball size," said Greg Forbes, a severe weather expert with The Weather Channel.
Hail damage and downed trees were reported across much of the lower half of Alabama. A tornado touched down in Pickens County, destroying several houses.
"We got hit pretty hard," said Ken Graham, a meteorologist in the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service.
He said there were reports of "anything up to tennis ball to baseball size" hail from Marengo County to the capital, Montgomery, over to the Georgia border, a stretch of about 200 miles. He said hail that size is rare in the South.
"You see that in the Midwest, but not down here," Graham said.
The Alabama Gulf Coast reported similar conditions.
A weather bulletin from the National Weather Service in Tennessee said winds could reach 60 mph in some areas, "which could push over shallow rooted trees and break tree limbs about the size of your wrist."
Hail the size of quarters was reported in middle and east Tennessee.
Forecasters said the storm is expected to weaken as it moves east Saturday.
Parts of Mississippi are cleaning up after a severe storm injured more than 20 people and destroyed or damaged 120 homes Thursday night. (Full story)