Major winter storm threatens powerful tornadoes in the South and heavy snow and freezing rain across the Plains and Midwest


A major multi-hazard storm moving across the country puts the risk of strong tornadoes and flooding in the south, and ice and snow in the Plains and Upper Midwest on Tuesday.

The storm, which has already caused deadly flooding in California, was expected to pull moisture south from the Gulf of Mexico, where above-normal temperatures set the stage for severe thunderstorms.

As of Monday evening, more than 2 million people were under tornado watch in parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

In addition to the risk of tornadoes, areas could see hail and powerful scattered wind gusts up to 70 mph.

According to Garland County officials, damage has already been reported after a possible tornado in Jessieville, Arkansas.

“Damage was sustained in areas of (a) school due to trees and power lines. School was currently in session at the time, but all students were accommodated and no injuries were reported,” the Garland County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

In Jackson Parish, Louisiana, residents were told to stay off the roads as severe weather toppled trees and covered roads with water. The Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Department said tarps will be distributed to those whose homes are damaged.

“We are trying to work to get to damaged homes and clear the roads,” the sheriff’s department said.

While the risk persists, forecasters are concerned about tornadoes forming overnight, according to Brad Bryant of the National Weather Service’s office in Shreveport, Louisiana.

“You can’t see them coming. Most of the time people are sleeping and not paying attention to the weather,” Bryant said. “Many areas here don’t have good cell phone coverage and storm warnings aren’t as effective in those areas, especially once people are sleeping.”

Anyone in tornado-prone areas should seek safe shelter immediately, Bryant said.

“If you wait for a warning to be issued, it’s too late,” Bryant said Monday. “You need to have a safe shelter plan in place before these storms.”

As of 1 a.m., there had been 21 storm reports, including one tornado report, 16 wind reports and four hail reports. The reported tornado occurred in Jonesboro, Louisiana where large trees were toppled and damaged.

Reports of damage also came from across northern Louisiana, including several damaged highline transmission towers in the Haile community in Marion. One of the towers was toppled and several others are damaged, according to the National Weather Service in Shreveport.

A wind gust of 81 mph was reported in Adair, Oklahoma – a gust equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane.

According to National Weather Service.

More than 12 million people in the South were under flood watch Tuesday morning, with the heaviest rainfall expected in parts of southwestern Alabama and southeastern Georgia. Flood watches have spread from the Texas-Louisiana border north along the Mississippi Valley to southern Indiana and Illinois.

Rainfall totals in the south through Wednesday are expected to be between 2 and 4 inches with some areas expected to see up to 6 inches.

A radar-reported flash flood warning was issued for parts of central Arkansas, including much of Little Rock, through 12:55 a.m. CST. Between 1 and 2 inches fell in the area, and an additional 1 to 2 inches is possible.

“Turn around, don’t drown when you encounter flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles,” the weather service warned.

In response to severe weather and flash flooding expected in parts of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott activated the state’s emergency response resources on Monday.

“As we monitor conditions and potential threats, I urge Texans in affected areas to follow the advice of local officials and remain alert to weather conditions as severe weather systems develop,” Abbott said in a statement. communicated. “We will quickly provide all the resources necessary to deal with the weather and protect our communities.”

Meanwhile, waterlogged communities in Northern California could be inundated with even more rainfall later this week.

As the South braces for flooding and tornadoes, the storm is expected to bring heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain to the Plains and upper Midwest on Tuesday, which will significantly impact travel.

Residents of parts of Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota will likely see intense snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour.

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National Weather Service Sioux Falls SD/Twitter

More than 15 million people are under winter weather warning from Utah to Wisconsin.

Blowing snow and windblown snow on Tuesday could result in snowy roads and make travel “dangerous or even impossible”, the weather service warned.

Road conditions were already deteriorating Monday evening in northwestern Iowa, northern Nebraska and eastern South Dakota, according to the weather service in Omaha.

About 200 miles of eastbound Interstate 80 in Wyoming from Evanston to Rawlins is closed due to continued impacts from the storm, according to the Wyoming Department of Transportation. The department said westbound traffic is additionally blocked from the Rawlins section of I-80 to the Interstate-25 junction in Cheyenne, which covers more than 120 miles.

“Snow (and) blowing snow will impact Wyoming roads tonight,” read a Facebook post from the agency. “A strong wind event will then create blowing snow (and) blowing snow, poor visibility and possible whiteout conditions Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon for portions of I-80, I -25, the South Pass and various side roads!”

“If you can, please stay home. If you must travel, make sure you have an emergency kit in your car,” the Sioux Falls Weather Service told residents, saying travel would become difficult, if not impossible, Tuesday morning.

A winter vehicle emergency kit includes snacks and water, battery operated weather radio, flashlights and batteries, first aid kit, ice shovel and scraper, jumper cable and other elements.

Significant accumulations of ice from freezing rain are expected, possibly more than a quarter inch, from northeast Nebraska through northwest Iowa to southern Minnesota.

Freezing rain will also make conditions difficult for pedestrians. Even a light glaze can make sidewalks and driveways slippery. Accumulations greater than 0.25 inches can cause scattered power outages and snap tree branches, according to the weather service.

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