The “threat for supercells capable of all severe hazards” continued into Wednesday morning, forecasters said, after tornadoes and severe weather tore through much of the southern US overnight on Tuesday and into Wednesday morning.
At least two people were killed in Montgomery, Alabama, the state’s director of emergency management said, noting that there could be more as search-and-rescue crews began checking on residents and surveying the damage on Wednesday.
“They were in their home that was struck by a tree due to the tornado,” said Christina Thornton.
Parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee faced at least 17 tornadoes as well as severe flooding and tennis ball-sized hailstones as warnings continued in Alabama into Wednesday morning.
Images and videos of the aftermath of tornadoes showed damaged houses and fallen trees, while injuries began being reported in states like Mississippi and Louisiana.
High winds downed power lines leaving more than 50,000 customers in Mississippi and Alabama without electricity Wednesday morning, according to poweroutage.us.
Threats from the storms were expected to persist through early Wednesday morning. Later today the storm system is forecast to move east.
Hail and strong wind also a threat
A total of three million people across much of Mississippi and parts of western Alabama, southwestern Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and a small part of eastern Texas are at risk of hail, strong wind, and tornadoes.
‘Make decisions quickly'
Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the Storm Prediction Center, told CNN Weather, said: “Another challenge with nighttime tornadoes, especially in the fall and winter, is that storms typically move very quickly, at times 50 or 60 mph.
“This means that you must make decisions quickly and take shelter based on information contained in the severe thunderstorm or tornado warning, and not wait until the storm arrives,” he added.
Take picture for insurance. residents urged
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is urging homeowners to photograph their property before the storm hits for insurance purposes. It tweeted: “We encourage Mississippians to take photos of their home BEFORE the storms. These photos can be used for insurance purposes and/or possible assistance if your home is damaged in the storm.”
Safety plan is ‘imperative'
Meteorologist for @WCBINEWS Jackson Chastain tweeted: “This is what we are up against. A Tornado Watch is likely by early this afternoon.
“The window is large, as is the potential for several long-track tornadoes. It is imperative that you have a safety plan going into this evening.”
Meteorologist explains threat levels
Meteorologist Craig Ceecee has outlined what the storm categories mean:
He added: “If you can’t get to your safe place from home, or up and out, in 5 minutes - especially if in a mobile home or weaker structure - you should spend the time under #tornado threat tomorrow somewhere else (with family/friends, at work or at a shelter).”
Still some risk tomorrow
According to weather.com, the potential for severe weather will decrease on Wednesday. However, some parts of the Southeast could see one to two inches of rain and flash flooding is possible in areas where too much rain falls too quickly.
What is a tornado?
Tornadoes are whirling, vertical air columns that form from thunderstorms and stretch to the ground. They travel with ferocious speed and lay waste to everything in their path.
Thunderstorms occur when denser, drier cold air is pushed over warmer, humid air, conditions scientists call atmospheric instability. As that happens, an updraft is created when the warm air rises. When winds vary in speed or direction at different altitudes — a condition known as wind shear — the updraft will start to spin.
These changes in winds produce the spin necessary for a tornado. For especially strong tornadoes, changes are needed in both the wind’s speed and direction.
More from the Independent on tornadoes and how the climate crisis makes them worse here.
Meteorologist posts shelter locations
Why it’s so hard to know if tornadoes are caused by climate change
In December 2021, a powerful tornado outbreak across six US states left dozens of people dead.
At the time, I wrote about the difficulty of linking these events to the climate crisis.
The climate crisis is not going to unravel how everyone expects
Tornado warnings begin in Louisiana
Tornado warnings started to pop up early on Tuesday afternoon from the National Weather Service’s official Twitter account
Among the first were for the tiny towns of Mamou, Pine Prairie and Reddell in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana until 12.15pm (Central Time).
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