Storms taking aim at South could bring strong tornadoes
ATLANTA (AP) — Storms dumped as much as 6 inches of rain on Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday ahead of threatening weather that forecasters said could include tornadoes across a large part of the South from Texas to Georgia.
With isolated flooding already being reported in western Alabama, the Storm Prediction Center said large hail and intense twisters were possible across the region Wednesday. More than 6 million people live in an area stretching from eastern Arkansas to eastern Alabama that forecasters said was most at risk for violent weather.
At least 10 Alabama school systems canceled classes or planned online sessions because of the threat, and more could be added to the list.
Forecasters issued tornado warnings in southwest Alabama as storms moved through overnight, but no damage was reported immediately. Schools in Cullman County, north of Birmingham, delayed opening Tuesday because of downpours that were particularly intense around the Mississippi-Alabama state line, where as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain fell.
“’We did get a strong band of pretty heavy precipitation,” said Ashlyn Jackson, a forecaster in the National Weather Service office in Jackson, Mississippi. "We’ve been getting hit pretty hard.”
On Wednesday, strong twisters that stay on the ground for an extended period are possible in a region that includes large parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama as well as parts of Louisiana and Tennessee, forecasters said. Residents need to pay attention to alerts in cities including Memphis, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; and Jackson forecasters said.
In Tennessee, Shelby County, which includes Memphis, has canceled vaccination appointments for Wednesday because of the threat of severe weather. Most public vaccination sites in the state’s most populous county are outdoors, with people getting shots in their cars, and officials are concerned that strong winds, rain, hail and the threat of tornadoes could make vaccination operations unsafe.
In Alabama, strong tornadoes, golf ball-sized hail and winds of up to 60 mph (97 km/h) will be possible Wednesday, the weather service's Birmingham office said.