Weather forecasters in Mobile, Ala., received reports of hail the size of softballs in some areas as a storm system moved into Florida.
Powerful storms rolled through the South early on Saturday, killing one person in Louisiana and bringing hail the size of softballs to parts of Alabama, with more severe weather expected throughout the day, the authorities said.
In Louisiana, the president of St. Landry Parish, Jessie Bellard, confirmed that one person was killed and at least seven others were injured in the storms that moved through the area around 2 a.m. local time. The conditions of those injured were not immediately known.
Video recorded by the television station WGNO showed widespread damage in Palmetto, La., a village about 60 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. Winds were powerful enough to drag a home several dozen yards onto a road, the station reported.
Mr. Bellard said crews were working on Saturday to clear debris and restore power to the area.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this storm,” he said.
Shortly after midnight local time, the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for portions of Louisiana and Mississippi, warning of the threat of a “couple of strong tornadoes,” hail, and wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour.
At 1:22 a.m., the Weather Service issued a tornado warning for portions of Louisiana, including Palmetto, after radars indicated a tornado had most likely developed.
Andy Patrick, a meteorologist with the Weather Service office in Lake Charles, La., said it is difficult to alert the public about severe weather when powerful storms develop overnight while most people are sleeping.
“It’s certainly a challenge,” Mr. Patrick said, adding that a survey team would assess the damage in St. Landry Parish to determine whether a tornado had developed and the strength of the storm.
Storms also appeared in the Florida Panhandle, with the Weather Service issuing a tornado warning around 6 a.m. for Walton County, which is about 90 miles east of Pensacola, Fla.
Images circulating online after the Florida storm showed significant damage, including one home that was reduced to a pile of debris and a roof that was torn from a convenience store. Video also showed a possible waterspout near Panama City Beach.
About 30,000 customers in northwest Florida were without power after the storms, according to the utility Gulf Power.
The Weather Service issued a tornado warning for southwestern Calhoun County in the Florida Panhandle around 9 a.m. local time. It said radars indicated storms were rotating that could produce a tornado, and that wind gusts could result in extensive damage.
“Flying debris will be dangerous to those caught without shelter,” the Weather Service said. “Do not wait to see or hear the tornado.”