Several Southeastern states have been placed on high alert as a "very large super-cell" of tornadoes have struck in Alabama, Indiana and Tennessee, and there is potential that up to 17 states may be affected as the super-cell spreads.
Storms were expected to proliferate during the afternoon, with the most likely window for tornadoes between 4 and 8 p.m. ET, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.
Dangers of widespread damage will depend on the intensity of wind gusts, large hail and violent tornadoes. The storms are expected to begin weakening during the late evening as they move east toward the Appalachians. The severe weather threat will diminish overnight Friday into Saturday morning, Morris said.
Tornado warnings were issued Friday in Alabama for Limestone, Madison, Franklin and Jackson Counties; Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Scott, Washington and Wise Counties in Virginia; Massac and Gallatin Counties in Illinois; Boone, Clark, Crawford, Dubois, Floyd, Hamilton, Harrison, Orange, Perry, Posey and Washington Counties in Indiana; Graves, Henderson, Marshall, McCracken, Livingston and Union Counties in Kentucky; and Graham and Swain Counties in North Carolina, and many counties in Tennessee remain on Tornado watch, ABC reported.
First reports of a tornado came from northern Alabama early Friday morning, MSNBC reported, with the twister damaged houses, a prison and a high school and leaving four people injured.
"The reason that it is so wide is because we're not talking about one tornado, we're talking about a very large super cell that spawned several smaller tornadoes and there's possibly one very large one in there, too," said Paige Colburn, emergency management officer at the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency in Alabama.
Some 30,000-35,000 people in Harvest, Meridianville, Hazel Green and New Market were without power, said Chris Reed, an emergency management officer.
"We've got crews out doing search and rescue. That's our priority before we get into damage assessment because we're expecting … a new tornado watch and another round of severe warning (at) any time," Reed added.