Tornado wrecks homes in Ala.; no word if injuries

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- A reported tornado destroyed several houses in northern Alabama as storms crossed the region Friday, emergency management officials said.

There was no immediate word on any injuries. But the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Office says ambulances are responding to neighborhoods near Huntsville.

Madison County emergency managers said in a statement that several houses were "leveled" in one neighborhood in the Walker Lane area.

Thousands of Alabama schoolchildren were getting out of class early Friday because the threat of tornadoes and other severe weather across the northern half of the state.

More than 20 school systems say they are dismissing classes early Friday because of the possibility of severe storms. Otherwise, the bad weather could hit around the time schools normally dismiss for the day, based on predictions from the National Weather Service.