Powerful storms smashed buildings, splintered trees and downed power lines Monday around the Deep South, leaving one person dead as the dangerous mix of thunderstorms and suspected tornadoes raked the region. Forecasters issued multiple tornado watches and warnings and some cities opened shelters as a cold front collided with warmer air over northern Gulf Coast states, the AP reports. The National Weather Service said the threat could last into the early hours Tuesday. The death Monday was attributed to an apparent tornado that struck a small residential area in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, said Chief Deputy Calvin Turner. He said authorities feared others could be hurt in the area since crews were still trying to reach hard-hit areas where downed trees and power lines blocked roads.
"We've got damage at lots of places," Turner said. "Right now we're having trouble just getting to places because of trees that are down." In nearby Alexandria, children in a church school were moved to the church before the tornado ripped off the school's roof, police said. A meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Lake Charles said it appeared the twister that hit Alexandria also struck the town of DeRidder on an “absolutely ridiculous” path estimated at 63 miles long. As the storm system pushed into Alabama on Monday evening, it toppled trees and power lines and kicked up more suspected tornadoes. Damage was reported in north Alabama from a possible tornado. Tornado watches extended from the Gulf Coast as far north as southern Tennessee. Forecasters said tornadoes, hail and winds blowing at 70 mph posed the greatest threat as a cold front moved east across the region.
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