Severe storms sweep the Southeast

By Adrienne Vogt, Tori B. Powell, Elise Hammond, Matt Meyer and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 8:01 a.m. ET, January 13, 2023
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4:34 p.m. ET, January 12, 2023

PHOTOS: Alabama streets are covered with storm damage after tornado rips through Selma 

From CNN’s Jillian Sykes

Storm damage in Selma, Alabama.
Storm damage in Selma, Alabama. (Courtesy Priscilla Lewis)

Priscilla Lewis was sitting next to Bloch Park on Thursday when a tornado tore through Selma, Alabama. In a Facebook post, Lewis shared photos and video of the destruction.

We went straight through the middle of the tornado that came through,” she told CNN. “It’s nearly impossible to leave out of downtown Selma.”

Collapsed powerlines, trash and debris litter the streets, photos show. Broken fences and damaged buildings can be seen in the video as cars attempt to leave the area.

(Courtesy Priscilla Lewis)
(Courtesy Priscilla Lewis)

(Courtesy Priscilla Lewis)
(Courtesy Priscilla Lewis)

4:11 p.m. ET, January 12, 2023

Here's what the radar looks like as the storm moves east

Storms continue to roll through parts of the Southeast.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, said the storms are "producing damaging winds up to 70 mph and large hail." It also said there is a lot of rain and lightning.

Already, Alabama has reported more than a dozen tornadoes. Now, parts of Atlanta and Tennessee are under alerts as the system moves east.

A tornado was observed Thursday afternoon over East Point — on the south side of Atlanta, Georgia — near the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, according to the weather service,

Here's what the radar looks like:

5:13 p.m. ET, January 12, 2023

Flights to Atlanta airport delayed to thunderstorms

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Joe Sutton


Flights heading to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are delayed due to thunderstorms in the area, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's National Airspace System.

However, the severe weather has overall had minimal impact on the facility, an airport spokesperson tells CNN.

“We are monitoring the situation. There has been minimal impact to the airport. More information will be made available if necessary. We suggest you follow the FAA for information regarding weather-related flight impacts,” said Anika Robertson, airport spokesperson.
3:55 p.m. ET, January 12, 2023

Tornado seen near southern portion of Atlanta, including Hartsfield Jackson International Airport

From CNN's Taylor Ward

A tornado has been observed over East Point, Georgia on the south side of Atlanta, according to the National Weather Service.

This tornado is located near the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. The storm is moving east at 45 mph.

4:04 p.m. ET, January 12, 2023

Possible tornado seen north of Prattville, Alabama

From CNN's Sharif Paget

Video showing a possible tornado north of Prattville, Alabama, was taken on Interstate 65 by exit 186.

Prattville is located about 35 miles east of Selma, where a possible tornado ripped through and damaged the area.

3:43 p.m. ET, January 12, 2023

City of Selma says students are safe at school — but that it's not safe to allow them to leave

The City of Selma said that kids who were at school are safe — but it warned parents not to come to pick them up.

In a Facebook post, the city said it is not safe to let students leave the school.

"All schools have reported that students are at school and safe," the city said in the post. "It is not safe at this point to go to the schools or allow the children to leave the school."

The city also said most streets are closed after a series of tornadoes ripped down power lines and trees.

3:25 p.m. ET, January 12, 2023

More than 100,000 customers are without power in at least 3 states

From CNN’s Joe Sutton

The severe weather outbreak currently impacting the South has led to more than 100,000 customers being in the dark as of Thursday afternoon.

As of 3:20 p.m. ET, 116,935 customers in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee were without power, according to PowerOutage.US.

About half of Alabama's Dallas County, where the city of Selma is located, is without power, according to PowerOutage.US. 

3:28 p.m. ET, January 12, 2023

Some injuries have been reported in Alabama, official says

There have been reports of some storm-related injuries, according to an email to CNN from Greg Robinson, external affairs director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

“Multiple [counties] has been implicated by tornadoes,” he said. “Local Emergency Management Agencies and municipalities are working with State EMA and supporting agencies to respond and assist.”

“Some injuries reported but no confirmed fatalities,” he added.

3:47 p.m. ET, January 12, 2023

Scientists say the climate crisis is changing the way tornadoes behave

From CNN's Rachel Ramirez

A huge tornado that tore through the Alabama city of Selma on Thursday caused “significant damage,” Selma’s mayor said – one of more than a dozen twister reports made in that state alone as severe storms tear through the Southeast leaving several injured.

Unlike heat waves, floods and hurricanes, scientific research about the connection between the climate crisis and tornadoes has not been as easy to make — though climate researchers say uncertainty doesn’t mean it is unlikely, and experts are already seeing changes in how recent tornado outbreaks are behaving.

The more humans pump greenhouse gases like fossil fuel emissions into the atmosphere and change the system, the chances of extreme weather events occurring, intensifying, and changing the traditional location and patterns will amplify.

Todd Moore, associate professor and chair of the department of geosciences at Fort Hays State University, said that over the last few decades tornado frequency has increased in vast swaths of the southern Midwest and Southeast, while decreasing in parts of the central and southern Great Plains, a region traditionally known as Tornado Alley.

study he authored in 2019 indicated that the changing climate, among other factors, could be contributing to this eastward shift in Tornado Alley, resulting in more tornadoes occurring in the more heavily populated states east of the Mississippi River. Moore points to different ingredients that may have led to this shift such as humidity, instability, and a strong wind shear.

His study also found that tornadoes are “clustering on fewer days in the year” and that days with little tornado activity are becoming less common, with outbreaks becoming more frequent during the fall and winter seasons.

How tornadoes work: Tornadoes take shape under particularly specific atmospheric conditions but are primarily fueled by warm, moist air from strong winds that shift direction with altitude.

Scientists have warned that the rise in greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere is drastically changing the climate system, causing the jet stream — fast-flowing air currents in the upper atmosphere that influence day-to-day weather — to behave oddly.

Learn more here.