• Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

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Dangerous Storms Threaten the Deep South After Tornadoes Rip Through Texas

A robust spring storm system that was blamed for at least one death and left a path of destruction in Texas was expected to move over portions of the Deep South on Tuesday, bringing unsettled weather and the risk of tornadoes.

About 3.2 million people in southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and the western edge of Alabama were under a moderate risk of severe weather on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.

Up to five inches of rain was predicted in the region through Tuesday night, with higher amounts possible in some areas, meteorologists said. The system rolling through the region could produce tornadoes, hailstones nearly the size of golf balls and damaging winds up of to 70 miles per hour.

By Tuesday morning, a variety of weather warnings blanketed the Central Plains and Deep South. In Mississippi, several tornado warnings were issued amid sightings of funnel clouds, though there were no immediate reports of significant damage. A tornado watch was issued on Tuesday for a large portion of Louisiana, including New Orleans. A flood watch stretched from eastern Texas up through the western edge of Tennessee.

A wind advisory covered nearly all of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as parts of Arkansas and Tennessee.

Forecasters in Louisiana warned residents on Monday night that it was time to prepare for the possibility of tornadoes sweeping the region.

“There is no safe shelter in a mobile home during a tornado,” the Weather Service in New Orleans said on Twitter. “Seek shelter in a provided space within your mobile home community or seek shelter with friends or family who live nearby in a house or apartment. Last resort is to lie low and flat on the ground.”

As the storms moved east, some state offices in Louisiana were closed on Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Twitter. School districts throughout the state also adjusted their schedules, many of them closing for the day or closing early in anticipation of severe weather. Similar school closings were announced in Mississippi.

“Today it will be windy with widespread rain including severe thunderstorms capable of damaging wind gusts, large hail and tornadoes,” the Weather Service in Jackson, Miss., said on Twitter. “Be careful!”

On Tuesday, the University of Alabama announced that it had suspended normal operations from 1 p.m. until 5 a.m. on Wednesday. It warned that there was an increased possibility of “supercell thunderstorms or tornadoes,” as well as heavy rains that could cause flooding.

The system is forecast to be less widespread and less intense by the time it moves over the Eastern United States on Wednesday, meteorologists said.

On Monday, severe weather ripped through Texas, where a 73-year-old woman was killed when a tornado destroyed her home in Sherwood Shores, a lakeside community in Grayson County near the Oklahoma border, the authorities said.

Sarah Somers, the county’s emergency management director, said in an email on Tuesday that 10 other people were injured during the tornado and were being treated at hospitals.

Several tornadoes were reported in Central Texas in the late afternoon on Monday, including in Round Rock, about 20 miles north of Austin where a video that circulated widely on social media showed people scrambling for cover inside a Walmart as a tornado funnel whipped debris in the store’s parking lot.

In Elgin, Texas, a suburb of Austin, a storm chaser captured video footage of a red pickup truck being tossed on its side by a tornado before righting itself and driving away.

In Jacksboro, about 90 miles northwest of Dallas, a tornado caused heavy damage to an elementary school and a high school, causing a building to partly collapse, ripping away roofing and uprooting trees, according to local media reports.

At a news conference on Tuesday in Jack County, which includes Jacksboro, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas recognized emergency crews and school personnel for response during the tornado.

“When you look at the magnitude of the tornado that swept through Jack County and know that there are no fatalities, it is a miracle,” Mr. Abbott said. “However, as has been said, the quick thinking, the decisive action by leaders, whether it be at the school or elsewhere, saved lives.”

Mr. Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 16 counties, including Jack County, where nine people were taken to Faith Community Hospital in Jacksboro with injuries that were not life-threatening, the authorities said on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, about 43,000 customers across Texas were without electricity, along with about 30,000 in Louisiana and 20,000 in Mississippi, according to PowerOutage.us, a website that aggregates data from utilities across the United States.