The storm set off flooding, caused thousands of power outages and sparked at least five home fires.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm is expected to weaken after it makes landfall.
The storm downed power lines, flooded streets and toppled 18-wheeler trucks.
Dozens of people were also injured.
The storms struck first on Easter across a landscape largely emptied by coronavirus stay-at-home orders.
The tornado did major damage at the Mall at Turtle Creek and Jonesboro Municipal Airport.
The storms caused multiple buildings to collapse.
At least eight people have been killed by tornadoes that tore through Nashville, Tennessee.
Britain's Birmingham airport had heavy crosswinds due to Storm Ciara.
The storm set off landslides, flooded low-lying villages, destroyed houses, downed trees and electrical poles and knocked out power in entire provinces.