Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Supercell Storms Rip Through the Southern States, Millions at Risk for Destructive Tornadoes

Major storms that spawned dangerous tornadoes overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning battered several southern states. Several tornadoes touched down in Mississippi, according to the National Weather Service.

Tornado warnings were issued for counties in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana on Wednesday as a severe supercell storm system moved across the country. The tornadoes that touched down in Mississippi on Tuesday evening left a path of destruction in their wake.

Heavy thunderstorms that spanned from eastern Texas to Georgia and as far north as Indiana were confirmed but there were no reported human casualties. As numerous tornadoes made landfall in the South, heavy rain and large hail also impacted the region.

The National Weather Service, based in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted an urgent warning to locals before 5 a.m. on Wednesday, confirming that a tornado had touched down just southwest of Tallassee. The tweet advised citizens to “take cover immediately.”

People were reportedly trapped inside a grocery store in Caledonia, Mississippi, shortly after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, but they were able to escape safely. A family trapped in a house about a mile away from the store managed to flee as well. The National Weather Service advised residents of Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, to seek shelter shortly after 7 p.m. central time due to a “likely destructive tornado on the ground now.”

A tornado damaged numerous homes in west Alabama early Wednesday morning, leaving thousands of customers without power. According to the website, over 45,000 customers were without power. A state ABC affiliate reported that 30 homes in Hale County may have suffered damage. The county’s Emergency Management Agency did not respond to requests for comment.

Flood warnings have also been issued for parts of southeast Mississippi and southwest Alabama. According to the National Weather Service, three to five inches of rain in these areas could cause flash flooding. Heavy snow was also slowing traffic in parts of the Upper Midwest.

Tornadoes are not uncommon in the South at this time of year. In November, the United States experience 54 tornadoes on average. Tornadoes have historically been most common in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Florida in November.

According to Matt Hemingway, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Shreveport, La., the fall weather season is a “secondary time for severe weather.”