CHICAGO - Rare December tornados knocked cars off a highway and flattened homes in Texas, bringing the death toll to 25 in days of storms tearing across the southern United States.

The extreme weather, fueled by unseasonably warm air, is likely to continue for the next few days, the National Weather Service reported, snarling holiday travel across a large section of the country.

The late Saturday deaths in Texas came as millions of residents in the southern United States struggle to recover from fierce storms and heavy flooding, with more rain in the forecast.

At least 17 people were killed in storm-related incidents since Wednesday in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas, local officials said.

At least eight people were killed as tornados touched down in parts of the densely populated Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, local officials and media reported. A twister struck around 6:45 pm (0045 GMT Sunday) in Garland, Texas, city officials said in a statement. “Five deaths have been confirmed,” the statement said. “Extensive damage has been reported to vehicles, homes, and apartments in the same area.”

The deaths are “believed to be related to vehicles struck by the tornado,” it said, adding that there was also an unconfirmed number of injuries and that teams of rescuers are arriving to help scour damaged areas.

The tornados snapped power cables and knocked over pylons, leaving some 30,000 Garland residents in the dark, the city said.

The Garland fatalities were apparently “blown off the highway by high winds,” Garland police spokesman Mike Hatfield told the Dallas Morning News. “We’re dealing with darkness out here,” Hatfield said. “All of the street lights and highway lights are out.”

Three other people were killed in weather-related incidents in Collin County, just north of the metroplex, the newspaper said, citing local police.

Local TV weather reporters said that 11 twisters touched down in the region, a figure the NWS was unable to immediatly confirm.

In Alabama, heavy flooding continued Sunday following several days of heavy rain that began on Thursday. Governor Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency to deal with the flooding just before Christmas Day tornados uprooted trees and tore off rooftops.

One even touched down in Birmingham, the state’s most populous city. There were no fatalities, but the twister damaged three homes, Birmingham Fire Department Chief Charles Gordon told CNN.

The NWS said Saturday in a preliminary report that the Birmingham twister packed winds of up to 130 miles (209 kilometers) per hour.

Near the state capital Montgomery, 336 inmates at the minimum-security Red Eagle Community Work Center were forced to evacuate due to flooding, local media reported.

And residents of the town of Elba are nervously eying a levee that protects them from water from the Pea River. The river is forecast to crest and possibly overflow the barrier, the news site reported.

In Mississippi, where Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency to deal with flooding, “severe storms” are forecast for late Sunday through Monday, the state Emergency Management Agency said. “Tornadoes are possible and residents are asked to remain weather aware,” the EMA said.

Early EMA damage reports showed 241 homes destroyed or with major damage, and more than 400 total homes affected. The EMA earlier said that 10 people were confirmed dead.

Six fatalities were confirmed in Tennessee, and another person was killed in Arkansas.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal also declared states of emergency in counties affected by the weather. “A variety of dangerous weather conditions will continue across the middle of the country through Sunday,” the National Weather Service said. It warned of “blizzard conditions” from west Texas into Kansas, and “hazardous ice accumulations” in Oklahoma.

“Dangerous flooding will extend from north Texas to central Illinois,” it said. Flood warnings and advisories also remained in effect in parts of Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and other areas in the southeast.

Separately, a southern California brush fire that forced the closure of part of two major highways was mostly under control. As of early Sunday the fire was 60 percent contained and evacuation orders were lifted, the Ventura County Fire Department said.

The fire scorched 1,200 acres (486 hectares), but there were no fatalities, and no structures were reported damaged, officials said.