Tornado threats for parts of Alabama and Mississippi persist this morning before storms weaken today
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The threat of possible tornadoes, high winds and hail in parts of Alabama and Mississippi persisted early Wednesday as a line of storms that threatened the region for much of Tuesday is expected to weaken as that it would move east.
More than a dozen Alabama counties, including Montgomery and the city of Birmingham in the western and central regions of the state, were under tornado watches until 6 a.m., according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center. parts of southeast Mississippi were also under surveillance.
Major threats in the watch area include potentially intense tornadoes, scattered wind gusts to 70 mph and hail up to 1.5 inches in diameter, the forecast center explained. A tornado watch means that weather conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in or near the watch area.
“The gradual evolution of a line of storms is expected along a cold front overnight, with damaging gusts and a few tornadoes as primary concerns,” forecasters said.
Tornadoes that occur overnight can be particularly dangerous because it is difficult to warn people to seek shelter when they are sleeping.
The storms spawned at least 23 reports of tornadoes, with most coming from central and southern Mississippi, and others from Alabama and Louisiana. So far, reported power outages have been minimal.
Mississippi State University at Starkville briefly asked students to take shelter during a tornado warning Tuesday night. Earlier today, classes at two of the school’s campuses were conducted remotely and some dining halls were closed due to the threat. Regular operations are expected to resume on Wednesday, the university said.
In the community of Steens in neighboring Lowndes County, a church steeple was swept away and a grocery store sustained damage Tuesday night, county emergency management officer Cindy Lawrence told CNN.
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In Alabama, the Birmingham Weather Service said it received reports of damage in Greene County, particularly in the Eutaw area.
« This was associated with a storm that produced a tornado debris signature, » the weather service noted.
The same storm also toppled numerous trees and damaged homes in the small town of Akron, Hale County. Officials had not received any reports of injuries, Hale County Emergency Management Director Russell Weeden said.
Earlier Tuesday, the Storm Prediction Center released a rare « particularly dangerous situation » tornado watch, which is usually designated for the most significant storm threats. This watch was in effect for central Mississippi, northeast Louisiana and southwest Arkansas until Wednesday morning and has since expired.
Later Wednesday the storms are expected to move east and weaken.
Parts of the Florida panhandle and southeastern Alabama as well as southern and central Georgia have a slight risk — a Level 2 in 5 — of thunderstorms. The main threats to this area are strong gusts of wind with a tornado or two possible.
Thunderstorms are likely Wednesday morning near the mouth of the Mississippi River looking northeast into Georgia, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
« This line is expected to continue to move rapidly southeast through Southern AL, the FL Panhandle and Central/Southern GA until noon, » the forecast center said.
Some southern areas, notably between Huntsville and Birmingham in Alabama, saw between 2 and 4 inches of rain on Tuesday.
“Additional periods of heavy rain will affect the region this evening, potentially pushing some areas down to around 5 (inches),” the official said. weather service said in Birmingham.