• Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023


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Millions in Southeast Under Threat of Severe Weather

More than 25 million people from Virginia to Alabama were under an enhanced risk for severe thunderstorms Friday, days after a line of storms ripped through portions of the South and Midwest.

Scattered severe thunderstorms were expected across parts of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys on Friday, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. The storms, capable of producing damaging winds, hail and tornadoes, were likely to begin in the late morning and continue in the region throughout the day.

The Weather Service in Wakefield, Va., predicted that wind gusts in the area could reach 70 m.p.h. Areas farther north could see lingering rain, meteorologists said. Rainfall totals could reach three inches in some places, creating scattered flooding.

Strong storms are not unusual in the spring. On Wednesday, tornadoes touched down in northern Texas and southern Oklahoma, tearing the roof off a school and causing damage to homes and businesses, officials said.

No serious injuries were reported, but roads across parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas were flooded and impassable on Thursday, said Gene Hatch, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Springfield, Mo.

In Seminole, Okla., a school, several homes and “dozens of businesses” were damaged, according to Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Emergency Management.

The Academy of Seminole, a charter school, said in a Facebook post that it had taken a “direct hit” on Wednesday. The storm tore the roof off the school’s main building and destroyed 15 classrooms, said Wren Hawthorne, the head of the charter school. A few staff members were at the school when the tornado hit around 6:45 p.m. local time, he said, but they were able to seek shelter and remain safe.

Classes were canceled on Thursday, and the school urged parents and students to stay away for their safety

A line of thunderstorms moved eastward across Texas into parts of southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana on Thursday. In central Oklahoma, there were reports of hail as large as golf balls as severe thunderstorms moved northeastward across the state, according to the service.

The Weather Service in Springfield said it had received reports of water creeping into basements, campers fleeing state parks and cars becoming trapped and swept away by floodwaters.

Derrick Bryson Taylor contributed reporting.