JACKSON, Mississippi ( Associated Press) – Forecasters warned Tuesday of torrential rain and hail the size of tennis balls, along with the potential for strong tornadoes traveling long distances across parts of the southern United States.
More than 25 million people will be at risk as Tuesday’s powerful storm system moves through an area stretching from eastern Texas to Indiana and Georgia. The National Storm Prediction Center reported that cities affected may include New Orleans; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama.
Portions of Louisiana and Mississippi will have the highest risk of severe thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon and evening, with severe weather expected to continue through Wednesday and move into Alabama.
The Mississippi Prediction Center said, “Multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms – some capable of producing long-range tornadoes with EF3+ damage potential – will be possible across the lower Mississippi Valley region and parts of the Midsouth from this afternoon into tonight.” , Oklahoma.
A tornado rated EF3 on the Fujita scale can produce wind gusts of up to 266 kilometers per hour (165 mph).
The National Weather Service said a flood watch has been issued for parts of southeastern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama, where 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 cm) of rain could cause flash flooding.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency urged residents to have several ways to receive weather alerts ahead of time and know where to go to stay safe. The agency also urged people to take pictures of their homes before the severe weather hit. “These photos may be used for insurance purposes and/or for possible assistance if your home is damaged in a hurricane,” the agency said on Twitter.