BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Strong storms left a trail of splintered trees and downed power lines Monday, damaging homes and a church in Louisiana as forecasters issued tornado warnings in several states on a potentially dangerous day for weather in the Deep South.
Radar showed possible twisters as a weather system moved across the region, forecasters said, and the Storm Prediction Center reported trees were broken or toppled in parts of Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Vernon Parish Chief Deputy Calvin Turner said what appeared to be a large tornado left a path of destruction.
"We've got damage at lots of places. We've got a church where the fellowship hall is torn all to pieces. Some homes are hit. Right now we're having trouble just getting to places because of tress that are down," said Turner.
Damage also was reported about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away in DeRidder, but details weren't immediately available.
Entergy Mississippi reported more than 2,000 power outages in the state, concentrated mostly west of Jackson along the path of a storm where a tornado was spotted on the ground.
There were no immediate reports of injuries, but the weather service said the threat of severe weather would continue all day as a cold front mixed with warmer air.
About 1 million people live in an area of northeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi that had a moderate chance of dangerous weather, forecasters said. A tornado watch was issued from east Texas through Louisiana into central Mississippi and southern Arkansas.
Forecasters said a lesser threat extended into Alabama, western Georgia, the western Florida Panhandle and Tennessee as storms moved eastward.
School systems in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi dismissed students early and canceled afternoon events and activities as a precaution because of the weather threat.
Forecasters said tornadoes, hail and winds blowing at 70 mph (112 kph) posed the greatest threat as a cold front moved across the region in an easterly direction. Storms that are predicted to begin in the west could last until early Tuesday in the eastern, forecasters said.