WALA-TV posted a photo of a large funnel cloud forming in the distance. National Weather Service officials say a tornado watch will be in effect in the Mobile area through 10 p.m.
Click here to see tornado photo.
The Mobile Fire Department tweeted that Murphy High School in downtown was damaged and that crews were going door to door to check for injuries. The department also tweeted that power lines and tree limbs were down.
As of 6 p.m., 22,500 customers were without power statewide, 17,500 of them in the Mobile area, Alabama Power reported.
The storm is part of a severe weather system that has already impacted areas of Louisiana and Mississippi and is moving east.
Brian Daly, a Mobile-based National Weather Service meteorologist, says forecasters were anticipating EF-2 and EF-3 tornadoes. That is stronger than the EF-1 tornado that hit Alabama Dec. 20, and left 54,700 people without power.
A National Weather Service meteorologist based in Birmingham says a tornado watch is not in effect for the Birmingham area, although forecasters there are expecting damaging winds and hail in central Alabama.