Good Thursday morning, and we have a lot of ground to cover…
Weather: Severe weather ahead. We are all in for a rude — and loud — awakening on Friday, as a line of severe thunderstorms moved through the metro area. The National Weather Service says that the line should reach our area between 5 and 8 a.m. The biggest threat will be straight-line winds, but isolated tornadoes are possible. For today, though, it will be mostly sunny and breezy with a high in the middle 80s. Tonight’s low will dip to the lower 50s before the storms arrive, and Friday’s high will struggle to reach 60 after the storms.
Texas explosion death toll climbs. A small fire at a fertilizer plant about 20 miles from Waco turned into a massive explosion that killed an undetermined number of people, though some local news reports put the number at 70. The explosion in the town of West destroyed a 50-unit apartment complex, a nursing home and dozens of houses, and the town was evacuated because of anhydrous ammonia fumes. The blast was described as being similar to the one in the bomb used by Timothy McVeigh to hit the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which used fertilizer for the main explosive material.
Theft turns into murder attempt. A Birmingham man is jailed after police say he pulled a knife on two Gardendale Walmart employees, and then hit a patrol car in an attempt to get away. Charles Earl Jackson was detained by the store’s loss prevention team after they suspected he was shoplifting. Police say he was taken to a back room, where he pulled the knife and fled. He went north, but police lost him at the Blount County line. He ditched his car, but was found and arrested at a store at I-65 and Highway 160. He was taken to the Blount County Jail on unrelated charges; he’s charged here with attempted murder and several other felony counts.