SHREVEPORT, La. – A line of drenching thunderstorms moved across the state from west to east Thursday after record rainfall caused flooding in waterlogged parts of Louisiana.
Most of Louisiana was under a tornado or flash flood watch Thursday, and up to 4 inches of rain were possible. Schools in Livingston Parish, northwest of New Orleans, were closed because the storms could produce flooding.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch through mid-afternoon for 13 counties in southwest Alabama.
Heavy showers also are spreading into the state. Some areas could get up to 4 inches of rain, and severe thunderstorms are possible Thursday afternoon.
In Mobile, forecasters said flash floods and damaging winds were possible.
Spring rains have helped ease drought conditions across Alabama. Nearly 75 percent of the state is still considered at least abnormally dry. But only 8 percent of its acreage is still considered to be in an extreme drought, and none is in the worst drought category.
Strong thunderstorms that began late Tuesday socked the Shreveport-Bossier area in northwest Louisiana, causing widespread flooding, knocking out electricity, blowing over trees and closing schools.
The rainfall began Tuesday night and broke several records, including the most rain to fall in a 20-minute interval and the most rainfall in a three-hour period. More than 10 inches of rain deluged the Shreveport area, flooding at least 125 homes, officials said.
"I expected rain, but not this much," said Joseph Gardner, of Shreveport, who had items float from his garage across his front yard on Wednesday.
There were no reports of any serious injuries.
The weather system that hit south Louisiana toppled trees and washed out roads. Winds of up to 90 mph stripped roofs from a church in Baker, a school in Central and the new parish jail in Livingston.
Golf ball-sized hail also was reported as a thunderstorm moved across southeast Louisiana, said Phil Grigsby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "It's one of the most intense storms we've had down here in quite a few years," he said.
More than 20,000 residents in the St. Tammany Parish area were without power late Wednesday. That number was down to about 12,000 statewide by Thursday morning, Cleco Corp. spokeswoman Susan Broussard said. The utility hoped to have electricity restored Thursday, but it also was receiving reports of new outages after storms rolled across central Louisiana, she said.
In St. Tammany Parish, there were several reports of flooded roads, and trees down. "Virtually every major road had trees across it," said Capt. George Bonnett of the sheriff's office.
Numerous roads were closed in the Shreveport region as well, along with the gates at Barksdale Air Force Base. Deputies checked houses for stranded residents in southern Caddo Parish, where floods cut off normal street access.
Shreveport's director of operational services, Mike Strong, said the city's drainage system was functioning but was inundated by rain.