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5 tornadoes confirmed across Tennessee Valley as cleanup continues

One death related to overnight storms has been confirmed in Morgan County.

HARTSELLE, Ala. — UPDATE 3/27: A fifth tornado has been confirmed by NWS officials. An EF-1 tornado struck Jackson County between 1:28 and 1:33 a.m. Saturday. The tornado had peak winds of 90 mph and had a path length of 5.9 miles.

Our original reporting continues below:

Officials from the National Weather Service confirmed Saturday afternoon four different tornadoes struck the Tennessee Valley in storms that ran from late Friday night into the early morning hours Saturday.

The NWS said one tornado made a 13.5-mile path in Lawrence and Morgan Counties. Another had a 0.6-mile lifespan in Lauderdale County. The third, in Lincoln County, Tenn., stayed on the ground for nearly 4 miles. All three were EF-2 tornadoes.

A fourth tornado, an EF-1, also struck Morgan County. It spanned two miles with peak winds of 94 miles per hour.

Reports of damage are plentiful; A radar-indicated debris signature was reported by the NWS at 1:35 a.m. Saturday near Flat Rock in Jackson County. An NWS team will be surveying that area soon, officials said.

In replying to an NWS tweet, a resident of Oden Ridge in Morgan County reported uprooted trees and metal debris flown into tree branches. "Had a flagpole uprooted from the ground," tweeted Christina Mechaw, "Garbage can blown. Heard train sound before this hit."

Credit: WZDX
Neighbors survey the damage after a large tree is toppled and falls on a home in Hartselle, Alabama.

In Hartselle, neighbors are helping a family whose house was damaged after a large tree toppled during the storm. Homeowner Faron Weeks said the massive tree landed above a bedroom belonging to his 8-year-old granddaughter, causing part of the ceiling to cave in. 

Miraculously, the girl slept through the ordeal.

"When I opened the door, there's insulation and sheetrock and ceiling joist lying on top of her bed," Weeks said. "But that created a little pocket around her. When we got her woke up, she was scared to death."

The child made it out of the room without a scratch; no one else in the home was injured, either.

Neighbors and members of Hartselle First Missionary Baptist Church are helping the Weeks in recovery.

Huntsville Utilities sent mutual aid crews to Sheffield to assist in repairs of damaged power lines.

Scottsboro homeowner Wendy Black also had to deal with a tree fallen on her home. "It sounded like our roof was being ripped off," she recalled. "I opened up my bedroom door and there was water just pouring in and a tree sticking through the roof."

Black said her family had to cut through tree limbs to get past her front door. They are now receiving assistance from the Tennessee River Baptist Association's disaster response team.

MORE | Steps to take if your home has suffered damage

GALLERY | Storm damage across the Tennessee Valley

At least one death associated with the storms has been confirmed. The Morgan County Sheriff's Office had freed the driver of a tractor-trailer blown into a tree from deep mud. However, they later reported the man died from his injuries, according to a family member.

Deputies in Morgan County were also able to successfully rescue a group of at least six people who were trapped in a group home near Cullman Hospital Healthpark in Hartselle.

The NWS said additional storm surveys may be taken as they get more damage reports from storm spotters and residents.

The same storm system is responsible for at least 25 reported deaths in Mississippi as tornadoes crossed that state earlier on Friday. Dozens of injuries have also been reported.

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