As one storm system sweeps across central America with tornadoes, flooding and snow, another threatens the West Coast with more flooding


Two major storm systems threaten the US this week.

A massive, multi-peril storm moved east across the country on Tuesday, battering much of the central and eastern U.S. and threatening the South with powerful tornadoes and flooding, as well as parts of the Plains and upper Midwest with ice and snow.

And as California recovers from the weekend’s deadly floods, a second storm system is coming ashore, threatening the state with strong winds and more flooding, fueled by both the expected rains and the state’s already wet soil.

“Significant wind and rain effects EXPECTED tomorrow through Thursday. Now prepare for flooding, downed trees and power outages,” according to the National Weather Service in San Francisco warned.

Meanwhile, the eastward-moving storm system is pulling moisture from the Gulf of Mexico south, where above-average temperatures have set the stage for severe thunderstorms.

Several areas reported record temperatures on Tuesday evening. Mobile, Alabama, tied his daily high temperature for Jan. 3, with a high of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, a record set in 1989. And Pensacola, Florida, broke its daily high Record for January 3 at 81 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the record of 79 degrees set three years ago.

Almost 30 million people are at risk from some type of severe weather in the South, with the highest risk near the Gulf Coast. Southern Mississippi and Alabama were under a Level 3 out of 5 “elevated” risk for severe weather. Places like Montgomery, Mobile, and Tuscaloosa could all see strong storms. A “mild” Level 2 out of 5 severe weather risk affected New Orleans, Atlanta, Birmingham and Baton Rouge.

The weather service on Tuesday evening said It monitored two areas of thunderstorms that threatened the New Orleans area with wind and hail.

Tornado watches blanketed much of southern Alabama and Georgia Tuesday night, with additional storms developing in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Multiple waves of severe weather are possible in this region during the day, the Storm Prediction Center warned, “with the risk expected to persist well into the night in much of the area.”

Chase the Storm: Radar, weather alerts, travel delays and more

In the most extreme thunderstorms, strong tornadoes, large hail and wind gusts of over 110 km/h are possible.

“Heavy convection with all three modes (tornados, hail and noxious winds) is likely,” the National Weather Service’s Mobile office warned.

Heavy rainfall associated with these thunderstorms could also trigger significant flash flooding in the south. Southern Alabama and western Georgia have a “moderate” risk of Level 3 out of 4 excessive rains. Parts of Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia are also at a “moderate” risk of Level 2 out of 4 excessive rains.

Total rainfall could reach 2 to 4 inches in the south by Wednesday, while some areas could see as much as 6 inches.

There have been several tornado reports since Monday night. One of the reported tornadoes occurred in Jonesboro, Louisiana, where large trees were downed and damaged. The other was reported in Haywood, Tennessee.

Damage was also reported following a tornado in Jessieville, Arkansas. The National Weather Service confirmed there was an EF-1 tornado in the area, damaging several homes in the city and the buildings of a local school.

“There has been damage to areas of (a) the school from trees and power lines. The school was in session at the time, but all students were accounted for and no injuries were reported,” the Garland County Sheriff’s Office said in a release.

Home damage from a possible tornado in Garland County, Arkansas.

Ashley Shaver says she's never seen flooding like this at her home in Fountain Hill, Arkansas.  That area received about 3 inches of rain over the course of 12 hours, according to the National Weather Service.

In Jackson Parish, Louisiana, residents were told to stay off the streets as the storm topped trees and blanketed streets with water. The Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Department said tarps will be distributed to those whose homes are damaged.

“We’re trying to work to access damaged homes and clear roads,” the sheriff’s department said.

As the risk persists, forecasters have been concerned about tornadoes forming at night, according to Brad Bryant of the National Weather Service’s office in Shreveport, Louisiana.

“You don’t see them coming. Most of the time people sleep and don’t pay attention to the weather,” Bryant said. “Many areas around here don’t have good cell phone coverage and storm warnings aren’t as effective in those areas, especially when people are sleeping.”

Anyone in tornado-prone areas should seek safe shelter immediately, Bryant said.

“If you wait for an alert, it’s too late,” Bryant said Monday. “You need to have a plan for safe shelters ahead of these storms.”

Reports of damage also came from across northern Louisiana, including several power lines damaged in Marion’s Haile community. One of the towers was knocked over and several others were damaged, according to the National Weather Service in Shreveport.

An 81 mph wind gust was reported in Adair, Oklahoma — a gust equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane.

As the South prepared for floods and tornadoes, the storm brought snow, sleet and freezing rain across the Plains and upper Midwest on Tuesday, severely impacting travel.

There were over 15 million people in winter weather warnings from the Plains to the Great Lakes.

Parts of Minnesota saw at least 10 inches of snow, while parts of Nebraska and South Dakota recorded more than a foot of snow through Tuesday night. Lake Andes, South Dakota, recorded 27 inches of snow through the evening, according to the Weather Service.

01 weather snow US

National Weather Service Sioux Falls SD/Twitter

North of Interstate 80 in Omaha, Nebraska, roads were partially covered with ice and snow, the weather service said saidadding that conditions “get worse as you approach South Dakota.”

The weather service in Sioux Falls wrote on Tuesday night that although the snowfall rate had slowed, parts of southeastern South Dakota and northwestern Iowa could see an additional two inches of snow, while parts of Minnesota could see up to an additional four inches of snow.

“Wind speeds have slowed compared to previous forecasts, but blowing snow and drifts remain a problem, particularly in rural areas,” the weather service said. “Many roads are flooded with several stranded vehicles.”

In Wyoming, where some freeways were closed due to the weather, traffic officials warned that residents should watch out for black ice and snow blowing or drifting when roads reopen.

Meteorologists recommend that anyone who needs to get out during a storm exercise caution. A Vehicle Winter Emergency Kit includes snacks and water, a battery-powered weather radio, flashlights and batteries, a first-aid kit, a shovel and ice scraper, a jumper wire and more other things.

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