A heavy storm system moved through the Tennessee Valley on Saturday afternoon toppling trees and leaving thousands without power, area authorities said.

No storm-related deaths or injuries were reported in Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties.

The National Weather Service in Huntsville issued a tornado warning for extreme eastern Morgan County, Marshall and Cullman counties from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Director Eddie Hicks said six sirens were sounded in Districts 3 and 4, and no major damage was reported.

“We had trees and power lines down across the county,” he said. “The Decatur Beltline area and Neel-Punkin Center area had power poles down and heavy power outages.”

At about 12:15 p.m., lightning struck a power pole on the north side of the Beltline Road Southwest McDonald’s, sending a shower of sparks and fireworks-like debris into the air and onto the cars below.

Joe Holmes, Decatur Utilities spokesman, reported that at 1 p.m. 4,200 customers were without power, mostly in Southwest Decatur. At the same time, Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Corp., reported 2,875 customers in Lawrence and Morgan counties had no electric power. Holmes said all DU customers would likely have power restored by Sunday morning.

Hicks said Liberty Baptist Church in Hartselle lost its steeple in the storm.

District 3 Commissioner Don Stisher said a house in Eva and a storage building on Mount Zion Road in the Cedar Cove community had significant damage when trees fell on them.

District 4 Commissioner Greg Abercrombie said trees were on roadways between Cotaco and Alabama 67 and 36 and was expecting some minor flooding.

“We dodged a bullet,” he said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

NWS Meteorologist Andrew Pritchett said wind gusts up to 60 mph caused the damage.

“About 2 inches of rain fell on the area as the storm moved through,” he said. “Some areas got locally higher totals. We’ve got another system coming through with rain likely late Monday to Wednesday.” He said the area could get another 2 inches of rain by Wednesday. He said temperatures today and Monday should reach into the 60s.

In Limestone County, EMA spokeswoman Daphne Ellison said high winds tore shingles and siding off some homes in the East Limestone area Saturday afternoon.

“We also had some ponding on the roadways, but nothing major,” she said. The city of Athens reported a downed tree blocked Nuclear Plant Road, but it has been cleared.

Lawrence County Engineer Winston Sitton said six county roads had some blockage because of downed trees and there was some short-lived localized flooding.

Downtown Courtland was without power for about three hours, residents reported Saturday afternoon.

The county is still recovering from an EF2 tornado that killed two people, severely injured four more and destroyed three homes in Town Creek on Dec. 16.

Saturday’s storm system claimed three lives near Carrollton in Pickens County, west of Tuscaloosa, according to the National Weather Service.

Alabama EMA said an embedded tornado within a long line of intense thunderstorms caused the deaths.

Six storm-related deaths including two first responders were reported in Louisiana and Texas, according to The Associated Press.

More than 139,000 people were without power in Alabama, according to Alabama Power. According to PowerOutage.us, Mississippi had more than 39,000 power outages Saturday afternoon. About 20,000 customers were without power in Louisiana. Outages were reported from Texas to Michigan.

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mike.wetzel@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2442. Twitter @DD_Wetzel. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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