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(NECN/NBC News: Chris Pollone) – The same storm system that’s heading our way has killed at least three people and left thousands more without power in the south.
A Christmas day storm system battered the heartland and south.
Some of the most dramatic images are coming from Mobile, Ala. where a large tornado touched down.
In Mobile, there was a Christmas surprise no one wished for: a tornado caught on video as it touched down right in the city center.
Emergency management officials say the apparent twister left lots of damage in its wake, blowing out first and second floor windows at the mobile infirmary medical center and tearing off the roof at Murphy High School.
The storm sent people scrambling for cover.
"One of the customers looked out the window and said ‘there's a tornado coming,’ and I looked out and you could see the sparks flying and debris flying around. So I got everybody together, about seven customers, and I said we need to get into the room in the back and huddle down."
"I probably hurt my baby grabbing her so hard and running for protection because there was not time."
The twister sprung from a massive storm system that stretched across the nation's midsection.
Storm chasers say earlier Christmas day, a tornado touched down near McNeill, Miss., and more than a dozen homes were damaged and several people suffered minor injuries.
In Texas, three tornadoes were reported. One near Crockett destroyed a livestock feed store.
And high winds toppled a tree in Harris County, Texas, killing a driver who was trying to move another limb from a road.
The storms caused a rare white Christmas in the Dallas area, making driving treacherous for holiday travelers. In west Texas, Lubbock looked like a winter wonderland.
Forecasters say the system could cause more trouble and travel problems later in the week as it moves east.