Residents of several Louisiana towns and Mississippi sought shelter as tornado sirens blared late on Tuesday. Forecasters warned of the danger of strong twisters capable tracking long distances on ground, as severe weather erupted in South.
Multiple tornado warnings were issued beginning Tuesday afternoon and lasting into the night. Heavy thunderstorms rolled across eastern Texas, Georgia, and as far north and Indiana as Indiana. There were no immediate reports of any severe damage or injuries. The National Weather Service confirmed tornadoes struck Mississippi on Tuesday evening. Alabama was also in the path of storms during the night hours.
As a result of the massive storm system, more than 25 million people were in danger. According to the national Storm Prediction Center’s storm outlook, affected cities could include New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee and Birmingham in Alabama.
The NWS was notified of people trapped in a Caledonia grocery store just after 6 p.m. Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency Director Cindy Lawrence stated to WTVA TV that the people were able to escape safely. Lawrence said that a family was also trapped at a house located about one mile (1.6 km) from the grocery store. They managed to escape.
According to Lance Perrilloux (a weather forecaster for the NWS), additional reports of property damage were received near Columbus.
Some public schools in Mississippi also closed earlier.
Flood watches were issued in parts of southwest Alabama and southeast Mississippi for areas where rains of 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters), could cause flash flooding, according to the National Weather Service.
Heavy snow in certain parts of the Upper Midwest was also clogging traffic.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport tweeted Tuesday afternoon, stating that runways were closed because of fast snowfall and reduced visibility. Some inbound planes were seen circling and diverting to other airports, such as St. Cloud, Minnesota and Fargo (North Dakota). Nearly 4 inches (10 mm) of snow had fallen at the airport as of noon according to the National Weather Service.
According to the weather service, “Supercells are expected this afternoon and track northeastward through much of northeast Louisiana or central Mississippi.” “Parameters are favorable for strong, long-tracked tornadoes in the afternoon and evening.”
According to Sarah Sickles (a NWS forecaster in Jackson), the most powerful storm wave was expected to pass through Mississippi between 5 and 8 p.m.
According to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, “Multiple rounds with severe thunderstorms — some capable long-tracked tornadoes that can cause EF3+ damage potential — are possible today into tonight over parts the lower Mississippi Valley region as well as the Mid-South”