A tornado barreled through a northern suburb of Birmingham, Ala., late on Monday night, collapsing buildings, trapping people in their homes and setting off frantic rescue efforts, the authorities said.
The storm, which struck the city of Fultondale just before 11 p.m. local time, was part of a band of severe weather systems that extended across much of the Southeast, local meteorologists reported.
A Hampton Inn off Interstate 65 in Fultondale was mangled by the tornado, which tore off part of the roof, photographs shared online showed.
“We do still have people trapped in houses,” Larry Holcomb, the city’s mayor, said by telephone early Tuesday.
Mr. Holcomb said that emergency responders were assessing the damage, but that he was not aware of any deaths as of midnight. The mayor said he had been at home when the tornado hit and that streets in his neighborhood were blocked by fallen trees.
The city’s fire chief, Justin McKenzie, told the television station ABC 33/40 of Birmingham that Fultondale was “hit bad, multiple injuries, multiple houses, trees, people trapped.”
High winds and heavy rain continued to move through the area affected by the tornado, hampering search-and-rescue efforts, according to local news reports.
The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency urged the public to avoid the area.
“On top of road dangers such as power lines and debris,” the agency said on Twitter, “traffic is clogging the roads. Once again, PLEASE stay out of the area.”
The northbound lanes of Interstate 65, the north-south highway that bisects the state, were closed after the tornado hit Fultondale because of a major crash, the Alabama Department of Transportation said. It was not immediately clear if the crash had been caused by the tornado or its aftermath.