The holiday may conjure visions of snow and ice, but twisters this time of year are not unheard of. Ten storm systems in the last 50 years have spawned at least one Christmastime tornado with winds of 113 mph or more in the South, said Chris Vaccaro, a National Weather Service spokesman in Washington, via email.
The most lethal were the storms of Dec. 24-26, 1982, when 29 tornadoes in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi killed three people and injured 32.
In Mobile, a large section of the roof on the Trinity Episcopal Church is missing and the front wall of the parish wall is gone, said Scott Rye, a senior warden at the church in the Midtown section of the city.
On Christmas Eve, the church with about 500 members was crowded for services.
‘‘Thank God this didn’t happen last night,’’ Rye said.
The church finished a $1 million-plus renovation campaign in June 2011, which required the closure of the historic sanctuary for more than a year.
Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Ala., Jeff Amy in Atlanta, Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston, Chuck Bartels in Little Rock, Ark., and AP Business Writer Daniel Wagner in Washington, contributed to this report.