Severe Storms Bring Risk of 'Strong' Tornadoes to Five Southern States

Severe thunderstorms are expected over parts of the South, bringing with them the risk of devastating tornadoes.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) said severe storms are expected in Mississippi, Alabama, western to middle Tennessee, eastern Louisiana and eastern Arkansas on Wednesday.

Hazards include the risk of "intense" tornadoes and widespread damaging winds.

"A regional outbreak of severe thunderstorms is expected from the Lower Mississippi Valley into parts of the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys today, and over portions of the central Gulf Coast states later today into tonight," the SPC said. "Widespread damaging winds with gusts over 75 miles per hour and several strong tornadoes (EF2+) appear likely."

The Enhanced Fujita scale, or EF scale, rates the intensity of tornadoes. Tornadoes with an EF-2 rating have estimated wind speeds between 113 and 157 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, a tornado watch was issued for parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas until 7 a.m. CT on Wednesday.

The SPC said the primary threats from the storms hitting those areas would be the possibility of tornadoes, damaging wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour and hail up to the size of quarters.

"Linearly organized bands of storms will continue east-northeastward across central/eastern Oklahoma into western Arkansas as well as North Texas overnight," the SPC said.

"Strengthening low-level shear and some increase in low-level moisture is concerning for the potential for a few QLCS-related tornadoes aside from damaging winds."

QLCS (quasi-linear convective system) tornadoes form very rapidly and with little warning along a line of storms.

More than 10 million people are at risk in the areas under the tornado watch, as well as more than 3,400 schools and about 250 hospitals, according to the NWS.

Residents have been urged to be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and listen for possible warnings.

Late on Tuesday night, the NWS in Kansas City tweeted: "Severe storms continue to push east through the area this evening with strong straight line winds as the main threat.

"Any brief tornado risk will remain northeast of the KC metro. Storms are expected to weaken over the next few hours."

The severe weather comes a week after a tornado with wind speeds estimated at about 160 miles per hour touched down in New Orleans as severe thunderstorms moved through the region.

The NWS said at least one person was confirmed dead and at least two others were injured.

"It was a very narrow, intense tornado with two areas of concentrated EF3 damage. One was a house that was swept off its raised foundation with all walls and the roof destroyed," the NWS said.

Tornado stock photo
Stock photo. Severe storms are expected to hit Southern states, bringing with them the threat of damaging tornadoes. iStock