Severe storms are expected to bring the potential for three devastating tornadoes, damaging winds and hail for millions of people across parts of the Southeast and Mississippi Valley starting Tuesday evening, forecasters are warning.
More than 40 million people from southeast Texas east to Georgia, and north to central Indiana and Illinois are under threat of severe weather Tuesday, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
The greatest potential for severe weather, a moderate risk level of Level 4 of 5, is those in parts of central Mississippi, including Jackson, and parts of east-central Louisiana.
The threat, Level 4 of 5, is rare this year for that region, where tornadoes are usually seen during the spring and summer months.
“Severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes, large hail, and a few strong wind gusts are expected this afternoon across parts of the lower to mid Mississippi Valley and parts of the Southeast,” the center explained prophecy A few strong tornadoes will be possible.”
Thunderstorms, strong wind gusts and tornadoes are also possible in the Level 3 enhanced risk area, which covers 3 million people across much of Mississippi and parts of western Alabama, southwestern Tennessee, southeastern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and a small portion of eastern Texas.
Some of those tornadoes could occur overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, making them even more threatening because of the difficulties in getting people to know the need to seek better shelter during the – those times.
Track the storms as they develop here.
“Another challenge with nighttime tornadoes, especially in the fall and winter, is that storms move very quickly, typically at times 50 or 60 mph,” said Bill Bunting, head of forecasting operations at the Storm Prediction Center, with CNN Weather.
“This means you have to make decisions quickly and take shelter based on information in the thunderstorm or tornado warning, and not wait for the storm to arrive,” Bunting said.
Parts of the region could also see heavy rain that could cause flooding from repeated thunderstorms, Bunting noted.
Rainfall is expected to be widespread between 1 and 2 inches, with some local areas at risk of seeing up to 4 inches.
In anticipation of the potential impact of the storm, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reminded residents to document any damage they experienced.
“We are encouraging 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 during the storm,” the agency said on its part Twitter account.
The storm system’s moderate risk to the region is the second time the weather service has issued a Level 4 of 5 threat this month, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said.
It’s also the first time on record there have been two Level 4 threats in November since the storm center began using its five-tier system of severe storm risk categories in 2014, Ward said.
The weather service previously issued the moderate threat on Nov. 4, which led to 62 tornado reports across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, according to the forecast center. Many homes and businesses were damaged.
And since tornadoes are not common in the region this time of year, Tuesday’s storm could blind some people.
“Severe thunderstorms in the fall and winter can be very impactful, and can sometimes keep people out because thunderstorms tend to occur less often during the colder months,” Bunting explained.
The same storm system has brought heavy snowfall to 13 states across the West and Upper Midwest, where more than 15 million people are currently under winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings.