Alabama death toll climbs to at least 54

Storm damage in north Alabama (Source: WAFF-TV)
Storm damage in north Alabama (Source: WAFF-TV)
Pisgah in Jackson County (Source: WAFF-TV)
Pisgah in Jackson County (Source: WAFF-TV)

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WSFA) - At least 53 people are now confirmed dead in Alabama following a historic day of storms and tornadoes.

PRELIMINARY FATALITY NUMBERS - Cullman 1; Dekalb 1; Fayette 2; Franklin 5; Jackson 4; Jefferson 11; Marion 3... Marshall 6, St. Clair 2; Tuscaloosa, 15; Elmore, 4.

Gov. Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency, saying tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, hail, and straight line winds caused damage to "numerous homes and businesses" in Alabama.

The WSFA 12 News viewing area has yet to see any significant issues with the weather, but the Doppler 12 StormVision team expects that to rapidly change as the day continues.

The mayor of Tuscaloosa confirmed at least 15 people dead after a tornado slammed into the college town. The tornado's path is estimated to be more than a mile wide.

Pat Curry, chief deputy coroner for Jefferson County, says a man was killed in Vestavia Hills south of Birmingham early Wednesday when a broken limb fell out of a storm-damaged tree and landed on him. Additional injuries and fatalities are highly possible after numerous large, long track moved and continue to move through heavily populated areas.

In Cullman County sheriff's spokesman Jay Pendergrass said one person was killed when a tree fell on top of a car in the north Alabama county. Pendergrass says another person was trapped inside the same car and emergency responders were working to free that person.

WAFF-TV in Huntsville is also reporting the death of at least three people  in  the city of Pisgah located in Jackson County and six deaths in the city of Arab. Numerous victims are currently being dug out of debris in the Phil Campbell area.

The storms sweeping through Alabama early Wednesday snapped trees, damaged buildings and have left more than 380,000 utility customers without power. Three nuclear power plants are confirmed shut in North Alabama as a result of the storms.

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.