Oklahoma and Texas Weather Warning: 'Violent' Tornadoes, Baseball-Size Hail and Hurricane-Force Winds Expected

A severe weather warning has been issued for northwest Texas and parts of Oklahoma today, with an outbreak of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms expected.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) said hazards could include hurricane-force winds and even baseball-size hail. On Twitter, Josh Johns, chief meteorologist at KSAN News, said it was the first time since 2017 that the agency had issued such a "high risk" warning for the region.

SPC analysis suggested high-risk areas would include Oklahoma City, Norman, Lawton, Edmond and Midwest City. At moderate risk were Tulsa, Wichita Falls, Abilene and Broken Arrow.

Educational facilities were also bracing themselves for the impact. Some buildings in regions likely to be hit will be closed for the day, including Oklahoma's main university and its public schools. Some of the main storms are currently predicted to last throughout today and into Tuesday morning.

Here is a zoomed in image of our High Risk for 20 May 2019 for use in social media. pic.twitter.com/TZd9Fr3atW

— NWS Storm Prediction Center (@NWSSPC) May 20, 2019

The SPC's statement said: "An outbreak of tornadoes, some potentially long-track and violent, is expected today into this evening over portions of northwest Texas into western and central Oklahoma. More isolated but still potentially dangerous severe weather, including tornadoes, was possible in surrounding parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas.

"Review your severe weather safety procedures for the possibility of dangerous weather today. Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, weather.gov, or other media for watches and warnings."

The agency added: "A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form during the next several hours. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, move to a place of safety, ideally in a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building."

A dangerous day of weather is in the forecast for the Southern Plains today and tonight with "High" risks for both severe thunderstorms and flash flooding. It is critical that those in the path of storms stay #WeatherReady today and take action immediately if warnings are issued. pic.twitter.com/kCrNje494k

— National Weather Service (@NWS) May 20, 2019

Michael Ventrice, a meteorological scientist at the Weather Company, said: "Stay aware folks and take the necessary precautions. To all the chasers, keep in mind your life is a video." Experts warned that the weather could result in a "significant threat to life and property."

The U.S. National Weather Service released an advisory today. It said: "A potent spring storm system was expected to produce an outbreak of severe weather in parts of the Plains today.

"Very large hail, damaging winds, flash flooding, and large/violent tornadoes are possible. The area most likely to experience significant tornadoes stretches from the Texas Hill Country through central Oklahoma. Residents should review severe weather safety and heed any warnings."

Flash flooding is predicted to hit Texas and Oklahoma today. Between 3 and 6 inches of rain could fall by tomorrow morning, The Weather Channel reported earlier today.

Speculation about the incoming storms led Marshall Shepherd, a professor of geography and atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia, to issue his own warning to the public.

He tweeted: "This is a VERY DANGEROUS situation. It is not a game, it is not a thrill ride. Lives at stake. Videos/photos should not trump your life or someone who lives in that region every day. I urge colleagues/enthusiasts to contain excitement/storm cheering. I fear casualties/changed lives today. These storms should not be entertainment."