Tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds hit the South

Severe weather including tornadoes, hail and damaging wind gusts hit parts of the South on Tuesday, with an estimated 11 million people in nine states under threat. 

The National Weather Service confirmed that several tornadoes had touched down in Mississippi, although there were no immediate reports of damage. Tornado watches were also in effect for parts of Southwest Alabama, while a flurry of tornado warnings were issued in Louisiana, the National Weather Service said. 

A little after 7 p.m. local time, the NWS advised residents of Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, to take cover due to a “likely destructive tornado on the ground now.” 

Video posted to social media Tuesday afternoon captured blistering wind gusts and hail pounding the northwest Alabama town of Muscle Shoals, while thunderstorms drenched the Morgan County area in north central Alabama. 

The threat of large hail was also in place for southeast Arkansas, northern Mississippi and northern Tennessee. 

The severe weather began in the early afternoon and was expected to last through the early evening into the night, with some tornadoes expected to be intense.

Residents in northeastern Louisiana into central Mississippi were expected to be affected the most, with some tornadoes gaining intensity into the overnight hours, according to the NWS. Mississippi cities at risk for large hail and tornadoes include Jackson, Vicksburg, Starkville and Meridian. In those areas, the severe weather threat is 4, with 5 being the highest, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Weather Channel Meteorologist Mike Bettes said Tuesday evening there was “a high risk for some flooding across the South,” including cities like Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama. Bettes added that Nashville, Tennessee, and Alabama cities Huntsville, Birmingham and Montgomery could also get hit hard by the storm.

The cause of the storm, according to Mike Chesterfield, director of Weather Presentation at The Weather Channel, is a cold front.

“A strong cold front will be sweeping eastward into warm moist air today into tonight helping to spawn numerous rounds of severe thunderstorms ahead of it,” he said. “The severe thunderstorm and tornado threat will be enhanced by winds which will be turning with height along with strong jet stream energy moving in overhead.”

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency used their Twitter account  on Tuesday to warn residents to prepare for power outages and stay off the roads if possible.

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