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Death toll rises from storms that hit southern U.S.

Residents of several southern states on Saturday began surveying the ruins left by tornadoes and heavy rains that barreled through the region this week, killing at least 18 people.

In Birmingham, Alabama homes and businesses were destroyed by a tornado that tore through the city on Christmas Day, while some of the state has seen record-breaking rains since Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. More than 190 Alabama roads remained closed on Saturday amid continued flood warnings.

The National Weather Service warned residents to avoid areas where flooding was expected, also noting that more than a dozen tornadoes struck at least six southern states during the last several days. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued an State of Emergency on Friday and planned on Saturday to tour several areas ravaged by the storm.

Tennessee and Mississippi also were recovering this weekend after another tornado wreaked havoc over a 100-mile stretch in the two states, decimating at least a dozen homes and buildings.

Damage caused by a tornado is seen in a neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama, Saturday.  Photo By Marvin Gentry/Reuters

Damage caused by a tornado is seen in a neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama, Saturday. Photo By Marvin Gentry/Reuters

Officials confirmed that 10 people have died from tornadoes and flooding in Mississippi since Wednesday, with six other deaths in Tennessee and one in Arkansas attributed to the storms.

Meteorologists said unseasonably warm temperatures caused the storms, with more rainfall expected throughout the weekend.

Texas and Oklahoma are also readying for a potentially “historic” blizzard that could bring more than a foot of snow through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

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