Tornadoes: Severe storms expected to target the South, putting more than 40 million people on high alert

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Severe storms could bring tornadoes, damaging winds and hail from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest from Tuesday afternoon through early Wednesday – but especially in southern states including Louisiana and Mississippi, where flooding are also a risk, according to forecasters.

Follow the storms as they develop >>

More than 40 million people from southeast Texas east to Georgia and north to central Indiana and Illinois are under at least a marginal threat, according to the Storm Prediction Center. severe weather on Tuesday.

The greatest potential for severe weather, including tornadoes, large hail and high winds, affects about 1.2 million people from east-central Louisiana to much of Mississippi, including Jackson, said the center. The threat to this area – a level 4 out of 5, or moderate – is relatively rare for this time of year, as is the risk of tornadoes, which occur more frequently in the spring and summer.

« Severe thunderstorms in the fall and winter can be extremely impactful and can sometimes catch people off guard, as thunderstorms tend to occur less frequently in the colder months, » said Bill Bunting, chief forecasting operations officer. at the Storm Prediction Center, at CNN Weather.

A Level 3 of 5, or enhanced, risk zone encircles this area, covering 3.6 million people in parts of Mississippi and Louisiana as well as a small part of eastern Texas, east from Arkansas, southwestern Tennessee and western Alabama.

“Multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms – some capable of long-track tornadoes with EF3+ damage potential will be possible this afternoon through tonight over parts of the lower Mississippi Valley and south-central region. “, said the center, referring to a scale from EF0 to the strongest EF5.

What is a long track tornado?

  • Long-track tornadoes are tornadoes that stay on the ground for a long time. The majority of tornadoes are on the ground for only a few minutes, but with some severe events there could be tornadoes on the ground for hours. This type of tornado is known to cause considerable damage.
  • Some tornadoes could occur Tuesday through Wednesday night, making them even more threatening because it’s harder during those hours to alert people to take shelter.

    « Another challenge with nighttime tornadoes, especially in the fall and winter, is that storms typically move very quickly, sometimes 50 or 60 mph, » Bunting said.

    « That means making decisions quickly and taking shelter based on the information in the severe thunderstorm or tornado warning, and not waiting for the storm to arrive, » Bunting added.

    The same storm system also brought heavy snowfall to 13 western and upper Midwest states, where millions of people were subject to winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings Tuesday morning.

    Typically, about 2 to 4 inches of rain could fall in the south-central United States, and the total could be greater in far southern areas of Mississippi and Alabama, where storms may swell. stop, said the Weather Prediction Center.

    This could cause flooding in those areas, where the ground is wet from recent rains, the forecast center said. Flood watches are in place Tuesday in parts of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi and Alabama.

    In anticipation of the storms, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency urged residents to document property that could be damaged.

    “We encourage Mississippians to take photos of their homes BEFORE the storms. These photos may be used for insurance purposes and/or possible assistance if your home is damaged in the storm,” the agency said on its website. Twitter account.

    It’s the first time since the Storm Prediction Center began using its five-level risk system in 2014 that a level 4 risk of severe storms has been announced twice in November, the CNN meteorologist said, Taylor Ward.

    The other Level 4 came on the fourth day of this month, when 62 tornado reports were reported across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, according to the prediction center. Many homes and businesses were damaged.

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