Lee County got through the onslaught of severe weather Saturday with little damage.
Emergency dispatchers got a handful of calls about lines down, poor visibility and the like, but there were no local injuries or power outages blamed on the storm.
Brief outages were reported in Tallapoosa County, but most quickly were restored.
Police did report cars lining the shoulders and underpasses to wait out the storm along Interstate 85 through the county.
“We’ve been very, very blessed to make it through,” said Rita Smith, public information officer for the Lee County Emergency Management Agency.
The storm line worked its way into the area just after 3 p.m., bringing high wind gusts and brief but heavy downpours. The National Weather Service measured just over an inch of rain at Auburn-Opelika Airport between 3 and 5 p.m.
The storm arrived late enough to allow an orderly commute home for fans who attended the Auburn-Georgia men’s basketball game, which was moved up to an 11 a.m. tip-off due to the severe weather forecast.
There were other parts of Alabama and the South that didn’t fare as well, however. Three people were confirmed killed near Carrollton in Pickens County. The Alabama Emergency Management Agency said the deaths were caused by an “embedded tornado within a long line of intense thunderstorms.”
Earlier in the day, in northwestern Louisiana, firefighters found the bodies of an elderly couple near their demolished trailer in Benton, the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office said via Facebook. The winds were so strong the home of the couple, who were the in-laws of a parish deputy, was moved 200 feet from its foundation.
The National Weather Service in Shreveport, La., said a tornado with winds of about 135 mph had touched down in Bossier Parish
Also in Louisiana, Raymond Holden, 75, was killed in his bed when a tree fell on his home in Oil City, crushing him, according to the Caddo Parish Coroner’s Office.
More than 139,000 people were without power in Alabama, according to Alabama Power. According to PowerOutage.us, Mississippi had more than 39,000 power outages Saturday afternoon. About 20,000 customers were without power in Louisiana. Outages were reported from Texas to Michigan.
In Tennessee, Memphis Light, Gas and Water said about 23,000 customers were without power Saturday morning.
Damage was widespread throughout Shelby County, Tennessee’s most populous county, which includes Memphis, including downed trees and power poles, some of which will need to be replaced.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation reported Saturday morning that portions of several highways in the southeastern part of the state were closed due to flooding.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation reported that portions of several state highways across the state, particularly in the southeastern portion of Arkansas, were closed due to downed trees and power lines and to flooding.
On Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Baldwin County canceled school activities including sporting events for Saturday. The National Weather Service warned of high winds and flooding and the potential for 10-foot-high waves on beaches, where Northern visitors escaping the cold are a common sight during the winter.
Many streams already are at or near flood levels because of earlier storms, and heavy rains could lead to flash flooding across the region, forecasters said. Parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana were under flash-flood warnings or watches Saturday.
The storm, bringing the threat of ice and snow to the Chicago area, prompted the cancellation of about 1,000 flights Saturday at Chicago’s two main airports.