Tornado Warning Update As Over 8 Million Across South Threatened by Twisters

Severe weather conditions are expected across several portions of the south on Wednesday and Thursday, with "strong" and "significant" tornadoes possible in some areas, the National Weather Service (NWS) warned Wednesday.

The region in the bullseye for potential tornadoes on Wednesday is home to more than eight million residents. Cities in this area include Memphis, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama, as well as the state capitals Little Rock in Arkansas and Jackson in Mississippi.

"A widespread/substantial severe weather event is expected to continue into Thursday from southern Virginia southward into Florida, and westward into portions of eastern Kentucky/eastern Tennessee. Along with potential for widespread damaging winds and hail, several tornadoes—a few of them likely to be strong—are anticipated," the NWS said.

States facing the highest risk of tornadoes on Wednesday include Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, according to a briefing from The Storm Prediction Center of the NWS.

Storms developing on Wednesday afternoon across Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi "could quickly become a supercell capable of producing strong tornadoes," The Storm Prediction Center warned.

The NWS explains: "Supercell thunderstorms are perhaps the most violent of all thunderstorm types, and are capable of producing damaging winds, large hail, and weak-to-violent tornadoes."

Portions of Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri are also at risk of severe storms on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the highest probability for tornadoes, as well as hail that could be greater than two inches in diameter, is projected for eastern Georgia into central North Carolina, The Storm Prediction Center said in a video briefing tweeted Wednesday.

"The threat for tornadoes and hail will extend into portions of the Ohio Valley," the center added.

Significant severe weather is expected for parts of the southeast and North Carolina and South Carolina on Thursday, with atmospheric conditions that could lead to supercell thunderstorms.

"Threats include tornadoes, a few of which may be significant, large to very large hail, and severe wind gusts.

Significant severe weather is expected across portions of the southeast and Carolina Day2/ Thursday march 18th. Please see the attached multimedia briefing for more information. #GAwx #SCwx #NCwx #VAwx pic.twitter.com/wyn5G659EZ

— NWS Storm Prediction Center (@NWSSPC) March 17, 2021

Areas facing a "moderate risk" of these threats include South Carolina's capital Columbia and North Carolina's capital Raleigh, as well as Charlotte in North Carolina. Cities facing the lower "enhanced risk" level include Atlanta, Georgia and Norfolk, Virginia.

"There is also a threat for damaging wind gusts from strong thunderstorms across portions of the Southeast all the way to the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio River Valley.

"If you live in the affected areas, now is the time to make a severe weather plan," the center warned Wednesday.

Classes and online sessions for Wednesday and Thursday have been canceled across more than a dozen Alabama school systems. Some have also announced early dismissals due to the threat of severe weather.

supercell thunderstorm Texas 2017
A tornado scout vehicle observing a supercell thunderstorm as it bears down in Lamb County, Texas May 9, 2017. Severe weather conditions are expected across several portions of the south on Wednesday and Thursday. Drew Angerer/Getty Images