Tornado warning - live news: 40 million in US South warned of ‘rare’ twister outbreak amid stormy weather

Tornado warning - live news: 40 million in US South warned of ‘rare’ twister outbreak amid stormy weather

More than 40 million people in the southern United States are facing severe weather with multiple tornadoes reported overnight.

Parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee faced at least 17 tornadoes as well as severe flooding and tennis ball-sized hailstones.

Images and videos of the aftermath of tornadoes show damaged houses, fallen trees and multiple power flashes witnessed across towns.

Affected cities include New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, and Birmingham.In Louisiana, at least two people were injured inside their homes during the storm.

While in Alabama, a tornado damaged at least 30 houses and knocked out power in part of Hale County.

Schools and universities in Mississippi have asked students to stay home as the weather worsens amid heavy thunderstorms, snowfall and rains.

The weather has caused disturbances to traffic as well in some parts of the Upper Midwest as flood watches were issued.

Threats from the storms were expected to persist through early Wednesday morning. Later today the storm system is forecast to move east.

Key Points

  • Multiple tornadoes touched down across Mississippi and Louisiana

  • Storms cause major tornadoes, flooding across South

  • Six people trapped by tornado in Mississippi rescued

  • Schools, universities switch to remote class as snowfall and reduced visibility causes traffic disruptions

Warmer than average temperatures helped fuel Tuesday’s storm

12:40 , Johanna Chisholm

The National Weather Service in Shreveport, Louisiana reported early Wednesday morning that part of what fuelled Tuesday’s severe weather can be attributed to the warmer than average temperatures experienced across the region.

In Shreveport, located in the northwest part of the state, the city recorded a high of 81 degrees Fahrenheit, while over in Texas, the city of Tyler recorded a high of 82 degrees.

Both broke records of 80 degrees, which had been previously set in 1949.

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Tornado warnings issued for parts of Alabama

12:26 , Johanna Chisholm

Early morning tornado warnings continued to be issued in parts of Alabama and Texas as millions of residents across the south hunkered down overnight to take shelter from the severe storm system passing through on Tuesday into Wednesday.

The National Weather Service alerted residents in Texasville and Bakerhill, Alabama to take shelter as a warning was issued for the region, expected to last until 6.45am CT.

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Hundreds of flights delayed in the US as dozens more cancelled

12:20 , Johanna Chisholm

Early Wednesday morning, nearly 500 flights within, into or out of the US had been delayed with dozens more cancelled as the storm system theatens to cause further delays and wreck havoc on the South.

In total, there were 493 flights that were delayed and 95 cancelled that were going into, within or out of the US, according to FlightAware.

It was not immediately clear whether those cancellations and delays were all related to the weather system.

Trees down, buildings damaged and injuries reported across the South

11:55 , Johanna Chisholm

In Sumiton, Alabama, located about 25 miles northwest of Birmingham, the fire and rescue team shared pictures late Tuesday night of the damage from the tornadoes and golf ball-sized hail that ripped through the city and wrecked buildings.

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While in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, located about 32 miles south of Monroe, the damage could to people and homes was beginning to make itself clear early in the morning on Wednesday.

According to local news station KNOE, there were already two injuries reported in the area with debris and wreckage piling up on highways.

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Major cities included in latest tornado warning include Mobile and Prichard, Alabama

11:30 , Johanna Chisholm

The National Weather Service provided more details about this morning’s tornado warning that was issued across three states, including Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Cities included in the tornado warning in Alabama, which is valid until 5.45am CT, were Prichard, Chickasaw, Stapleton, Mobile, and Spanish Fort.

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Tornado watch issued for Alabama, Florida and Georgia

11:13 , Johanna Chisholm

Heavy thunderstorms rolled overnight from eastern Texas to Georgia and as far north as Indiana as new tornado watch has been issued for parts of Alabama, Florida and Georgia this morning.

More than a dozen Alabama counties were under a tornado watch this morning with many areas. The watch is set to last until 11am CT.

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Large cities including New Orleans, Atlanta, Montgomery and Mobile are in the area at risk on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service confirmed that tornados hit the ground in Mississippi yesterday evening and Alabama was in the forecast path of the storms during the overnight hours.

Power down and schools delayed in Hale County, Alabama

09:30 , Stuti Mishra

A tornado has damaged at least 30 houses and knocked out power in part of Hale County, Alabama tonight, according to local media reports.

Rural communities in Akron and Stewart area were hit by a tornado that crossed the Warrior River after causing damages in Eutaw.

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Several trees and fallen and power lines have been damaged as hundreds of houses remained without electricity.

Threats from the storms were expected to persist through early Wednesday morning. On Wednesday, the storm system is forecast to move east.

Multiple tornadoes touched down across Mississippi and Louisiana

09:00 , Stuti Mishra

At least 17 tornadoes have touched down across Mississippi and Louisiana before midnight, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration amid a “particularly dangerous” weather situation in the southern states.

Tornadoes were reported from Bassfield, Bywy, Steens and several other areas in Mississippi downing trees and damaging houses.

Meanwhile in Louisiana, at least two people were injured inside their homes during the storm (see post below).

Dozens of tornado watches have been issued in the southern states with power flashes, thunderstorms and hailstorms reported in several areas disrupting daily life.

Forecasters declared the storm system a “Particularly Dangerous Situation” — the highest level of a tornado watch.

Images show broken house after a tornado in Louisiana

08:14 , Stuti Mishra

Images from Caldwell Parish in Louisiana show the aftermath of a tornado which injured two people, according to local media outlets.

Photos shared by KNOE8 reporter Tyler Englander show a broken house with heavy damages inside after a storm hit the town late at night.

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Another image showed a dog waiting for his owners to return home after they were taken to a hospital.

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Videos on social media showed intense lightning in the area during the storm.

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No other damages or loss of life has been reported so far in the area as southern states continue to live under a severe weather outbreak tonight.

Schools, universities switch to remote class as snowfall and reduced visibility causes traffic disruptions

07:21 , Stuti Mishra

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.

Six people trapped by tornado in Mississippi

06:20 , Stuti Mishra

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.

Tornado shelter opened by the Oktibbeha County Emergency Management agency on Tuesday (AP)
Tornado shelter opened by the Oktibbeha County Emergency Management agency on Tuesday (AP)

Storms cause major tornadoes, flooding across South

05:59 , Stuti Mishra

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.

What is a derecho?

01:00 , Louise Boyle

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.

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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.

What is a ‘particularly dangerous situation’ in relation to a tornado watch?

00:14 , Louise Boyle

According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, the “Particularly Dangerous Situation” wording is used in Tornado Watches for rare situations when long-lived intense tornadoes are likely.

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.

What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?

Tuesday 29 November 2022 23:30 , Louise Boyle

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.

Tuesday 29 November 2022 22:45 , Louise Boyle

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.

The climate crisis is widening ‘tornado alley’

Texas towns under tornado warning

Tuesday 29 November 2022 22:00 , Louise Boyle

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.

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More towns in Mississippi fall under tornado warnings

Tuesday 29 November 2022 21:37 , Louise Boyle

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.

Video shows scale of dangerous storm from above

Tuesday 29 November 2022 21:15 , Louise Boyle

Weather Channel meteorologist Stu Ostro shared a clip of the storm from above which showed the size of the cells.

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What do you do if caught in your vehicle during a tornado?

Tuesday 29 November 2022 20:59 , Louise Boyle

Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe, the National Weather Service warns.

The best move is to drive to the closest, well-constructed shelter. If this isn’t possible, then either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine, the NWS advises.

The Weather Channel also has this helpful video.

What makes a good tornado shelter?

Tuesday 29 November 2022 20:46 , Louise Boyle

The National Weather Service shared tips on Tuesday of how to take cover during tornadoes.

The best options are an above or below-ground tornado storm shelter that is compliant with the standards of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A specifically-designed FEMA safe room is also among the best options.

Good options are an interior room of a well-constructed house or building, or a basement.

Bad options are large, open rooms like gymansiums or manufactured housing.

The worst options are mobile homes, vehicles or underneath a highway overpass.

Tornado shelter guidelines (NOAA)
Tornado shelter guidelines (NOAA)

‘Pea-sized’ hail and tornado warning in Alabama

Tuesday 29 November 2022 20:09 , Louise Boyle

A tornado warning was put in place until 2.30pm (central time) in the small towns of Fruitdale and Yellow Pine, Alabama.

More than 1,350 people live in the area and two schools are located there, the National Weather Service reported.

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Tornado watch stretches across the South

Tuesday 29 November 2022 19:41 , Louise Boyle

A tornado watch has been issued for parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi until 7pm (central time) on Tuesday.

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Rare warnings

Tuesday 29 November 2022 19:12 , Louise Boyle

It’s rare that federal forecasters warn of major tornadoes with the potential for carving damages across long distances, but they are doing so in Tuesday’s forecasts, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

“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 produce wind gusts of up to 165 mph (266 kph).

Forecasters warned of the potential for strong tornadoes that could stay on the ground for long distances in parts of the South, as well as flooding rains and hail the size of tennis balls.

More than 25 million people will be at risk as Tuesday’s potent storm system moves across a region stretching from east Texas to Indiana and Georgia. The national Storm Prediction Center said in its latest storm outlook that affected cities could include New Orleans; Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee; and Birmingham, Alabama.

Parts of Louisiana and Mississippi will be at the highest risk for strong storms Tuesday afternoon and evening, with the possibility of severe weather continuing into Wednesday and moving into Alabama.

AP

How to prepare

Tuesday 29 November 2022 19:00 , Louise Boyle

Dr Rick Knabb, a hurricane expert at The Weather Channel, shared tips on how to stay safe during the severe weather.

“Tornado watch doesn’t mean wait until a warning to take any action,” he tweeted “There are things to do right now so you’re ready to quickly take cover in safest room when warning issued. First and foremost get out of mobile homes, off roads, into sturdy building now.

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The regions at risk

Tuesday 29 November 2022 18:50 , Louise Boyle

The most recent update from the National Weather Service Storm Center in Norman, Oklahoma, in the heart of Tornado Alley, provided the list of the areas to be prepared for severe weather.

Strong tornadoes, very large, “baseball-sized” hail, and severe wind gusts are forecast from Tuesday afternoon into tonight in Northern Alabama, Northeast Louisiana, Southeast Arkansas, Southern Tennessee.

The severe weather outlook on Tuesday (NOAA)
The severe weather outlook on Tuesday (NOAA)

Watch: Forecasters warn of extreme weather on the way

Tuesday 29 November 2022 18:39 , Louise Boyle

Tornado warnings begin in Louisiana

Tuesday 29 November 2022 18:03 , Louise Boyle

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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Why it’s so hard to know if tornadoes are caused by climate change

Tuesday 29 November 2022 17:40 , Louise Boyle

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.

Why it’s so hard to know if the Kentucky tornado was caused by climate change

Meteorologist posts shelter locations

Tuesday 29 November 2022 16:48 , Sam Webb

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What is a tornado?

Tuesday 29 November 2022 16:39 , Sam Webb

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.

Still some risk tomorrow

Tuesday 29 November 2022 16:24 , Sam Webb

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.

Meteorologist explains threat levels

Tuesday 29 November 2022 16:00 , Sam Webb

Meteorologist Craig Ceecee has outlined what the storm categories mean:

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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).”

Safety plan is ‘imperative'

Tuesday 29 November 2022 15:47 , Sam Webb

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.”

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Take picture for insurance. residents urged

Tuesday 29 November 2022 15:43 , Sam Webb

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.”

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‘Make decisions quickly'

Tuesday 29 November 2022 15:40 , Sam Webb

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.

Hail and strong wind also a threat

Tuesday 29 November 2022 15:39 , Sam Webb

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.