Fierce storms could bring strong tornadoes, hail and damaging winds to several states in the Deep South during the day and into the night on Tuesday, forecasters say.
The National Weather Service estimates that more than 7 million people in parts of five states — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia — are in an area of enhanced risk for a few strong tornadoes and other severe weather during Tuesday’s storms.
Meteorologists at the national Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, say the areas at highest risk of the most dangerous storms will be in southern Alabama and southern Mississippi, along with slivers of northeast Louisiana and northwest Florida. That area includes the cities of Mobile, Alabama; and Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
The system will bring “a pretty substantial risk for supercells” that could spawn strong tornadoes, but also lines of storms that pose threats as well, said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center.
“We definitely are starting to move into that time of year where the ingredients for these types of storms are beginning to come together,” Carbin said.
In Louisiana, storms with large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes could hit the New Orleans area from midafternoon Tuesday through early evening, said Andrew Ansorge, a weather service meteorologist in Louisiana. A tornado watch was issued across southeast Louisiana until 5 p.m. local time.
The storms are forecast to spread east across Alabama and into Georgia and north Florida, posing a threat into the evening, Carbin said. Forecasters in Norther Carolina warned of the possibility of damaging straight-line wind gusts later in the day.
In Mississippi, forecasters say strong tornadoes could form south of the Interstate 20 corridor.
In Alabama, a large part of the state will be under an elevated risk of storms late Tuesday afternoon through early Wednesday morning, according to forecasts from the weather service. That area — which includes the Alabama cities of Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Auburn and Tuscaloosa — could see tornadoes, winds of up to 70 mph, and quarter-sized hail, the weather service projects.
In Georgia, a total of 3.4 inches of rain is expected in Atlanta from showers and storms Monday through Wednesday, which could produce some flooding, according to forecasts from the weather service’s office in Peachtree City, Georgia.