More than 40 million people in the southern United States were facing severe weather on Tuesday that is highly likely to spawn tornadoes in places.
Parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee were at risk from tornadoes that could track for miles on the ground, forecasters warned, as well as severe flooding and tennis ball-sized hailstones.
A “particularly dangerous situation” tornado watch was issued for Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Affected cities could include New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, and Birmingham.
“Multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms — some capable of long-tracked tornadoes with EF3+ damage potential — will be possible this afternoon into tonight over parts of the lower Mississippi Valley region and Mid-South,” the Norman, Oklahoma-based Storm Prediction Center said.
Tornadoes with an EF3 rating on the Enhanced Fujita tornado scale can lead to winds of up to 165 mph (266 kph).
Schools, universities switch to remote class as snowfall and reduced visibility causes traffic disruptions
Schools and universities in Mississippi have asked students to stay home as the weather worsens amid heavy thunderstorms, snowfall and rains.
Some of Mississippi’s public school systems closed early while Mississippi State University’s main campus in Starkville switched to remote instruction.
The weather has caused disturbances to traffic as well in some parts of the Upper Midwest as flood watches were issued for parts of southeast Mississippi and southwest Alabama, where 3 to 5 inches of rain could lead to flash flooding, the National Weather Service said.
A Mississippi State women’s basketball game against the University of Louisiana-Monroe was to be played on campus, but the venue was closed to spectators. Alcorn State University and the University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg were closing early.
Meanwhile, Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport tweeted this afternoon that its runways were closed due to fast snowfall rates and reduced visibility.
Air traffic websites showed some inbound planes circling or diverting to other airports such as St Cloud, Minnesota, and Fargo, North Dakota.
The National Weather Service reported nearly 4 inches of snow on the ground at the airport by noon.
Stuti Mishra30 November 2022 07:21
Six people trapped by tornado in Mississippi
The National Weather Service received reports of people trapped at a grocery store in Caledonia, Mississippi, amid the storms and flooding.
The report was received just after 6pm, Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency Director Cindy Lawrence told WTVA-TV.
The people inside the grocery store made it out safely, she added.
Ms Lawrence also said a family trapped in a house about a kilometre from the store escaped.
Additional reports of property damage near Columbus were received by the NWS, according to Lance Perrilloux, a forecaster with the agency.
Heavy rain and hail as big as tennis balls were also possible as forecasters said the bad weather was expected to continue into Wednesday.
Stuti Mishra30 November 2022 06:20
Storms cause major tornadoes, flooding across South
Residents in several towns across Louisiana and Mississippi took cover as tornado sirens blared late at night yesterday.
The National Weather Service has confirmed that tornadoes hit the ground in Mississippi yesterday evening and Alabama was in the forecast path of the storms during the overnight hours.
There were no immediate reports of severe damage or injuries as multiple tornado warnings were issued starting Tuesday afternoon and continuing into the nighttime hours as heavy thunderstorms rolled from eastern Texas to Georgia and as far north as Indiana.
The national Storm Prediction Center said in its storm outlook that affected cities could include New Orleans; Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee; and Birmingham, Alabama. More than 25 million people were at risk as the vast storm system.
Stuti Mishra30 November 2022 05:59
What is a derecho?
A derecho is a wind storm that is long-lived, severe and takes place across a wide area.
Derecho-producing storm systems can also contain tornadoes, but they consist mostly of (and are defined by) damaging non-tornadic wind, according to the National Weather Service.
“Sometimes, an intense derecho can result in hundreds of severe wind and damage reports spread along a swath covering multiple states, with deaths, injuries, and many millions of dollars in losses,” the federal agency says.
In August 2020, a powerful derecho struck the Midwest and caused more than $11billion in damages across eastern Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.
Winds reached 126mph (203 km/h) in Iowa and sustained winds held at around 70mph through the affected area.
There were blackouts across the region including in Cedar Rapids, Iowa which was left without power for weeks in some parts. There was also severe damage to crop staples like corn and soybeans in the agricultural stronghold.
Louise Boyle30 November 2022 01:00
What is a ‘particularly dangerous situation’ in relation to a tornado watch?
The wording may also accompany Severe Thunderstorm Watches for widespread significant severe events, usually produced by exceptionally intense derechos.
PDS watches are issued, when in the opinion of the forecaster, the likelihood of significant events is boosted by very volatile atmospheric conditions.
Louise Boyle30 November 2022 00:14
What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?
The National Weather Service differentiates between a tornado watch and tornado warning.
A Tornado Watch tells residents to be prepared that tornadoes are possible, in and near the watch area. People should go over their emergency plans, check supplies and safe rooms. The aim is to be ready to act quickly. Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.
A Tornado Warning means take action because a twister has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. People should move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a well-constructed house or building, avoiding windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado.
Louise Boyle29 November 2022 23:30
What role the climate crisis is playing in the severity and frequency of tornadoes is still being heavily debated in the scientific community.
However recent research has suggested that the rising global temperature may be shifting the paths of tornadoes in the United States.
You can read more at the link below.
Louise Boyle29 November 2022 22:45
Texas towns under tornado warning
A tornado warning remains in place for the Texas towns of Milam and Bronson until 3.45pm (central time) on Tuesday.
Around 1,500 people live in the towns close to the border with Louisiana.
Louise Boyle29 November 2022 22:00
More towns in Mississippi fall under tornado warnings
Tornado warnings continue for the towns of Winona, Vaiden, Kilmichael, McComb, Summit and Thompson in Mississippi until 3.45pm (central time).
In the area of Winona, Vaiden and Kilmichael, a tornado has been observed and hail was the size of tennis balls. More than 10,000 people live in the area where two hospitals and six schools are located.
McComb, Summit and Thompson have more than 24,000 residents, seven schools and one hospital. Radar was showing a tornado at this time and hailstones the size of quarters expected.
Louise Boyle29 November 2022 21:37
Video shows scale of dangerous storm from above
Weather Channel meteorologist Stu Ostro shared a clip of the storm from above which showed the size of the cells.
Louise Boyle29 November 2022 21:15