Tornado outbreak in Southern U.S. underway, life-threatening storms through tonight

5:40 p.m.: Some good news, there have no reports of deaths or significant injuries from Tupelo.

However, multiple counties remain under tornado warnings in Mississippi and Alabama and environmental conditions will continue to support violent, rotating thunderstorm formation for the next few hours.

A large tornado up to a mile wide, with an unmistakable signature of producing debris on radar, is moving through Louisville, Miss.

This is our last update for now, but we may resume updates later if needed…  To keep up with the storms, I suggest following the links below:

Resources to track storms: Latest warnings | Jackson, Miss. radar | Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. radar | Regional Radar

Twitter feeds to follow: @capitalweather | @wcl_shawn | @afreedma | @ericholthaus | @wxbrad | @stormchaster4850 | @TWCBreaking | @28storms | @BuzzFeedStorm

5:20 p.m.: A large and dangerous tornado is on the ground in Winston County, Miss.  This is likely the same tornado discussed in the 4:57 p.m. update.  It is headed towards the town of Louisville, Miss – where a tornado emergency is in effect.  Here’s a photo:

5:15 p.m.: The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) reports extensive damage in and around Tupelo.

5:10 p.m.: The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center warns the significant tornado threat will last several more hours in northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama:

ALIGNMENT OF THE STORM INITIATION AND SPACING OF THE STORMS IN CENTRAL MS SUGGEST THAT THESE STORMS WILL REMAIN DISCRETE FOR SEVERAL HOURS…SUPPORTING THE POTENTIAL FOR LONG-TRACK TORNADOES.

5:05 p.m.: Here’s storm chaser video of the large tornado that raked the Tupelo area earlier:

4:57 p.m.: Tornado-warned thunderstorm northwest of Philadelphia, Miss. (for Attala and Leake county) shows extremely intense rotation; the National Weather Service is cautioning “complete destruction” of cars, businesses and homes possible with this storm:

4:55 p.m.: Before and after view of gas station destroyed by tornado near Tupelo, Miss.:

4:48 p.m.: Look at this infrared satellite view of the storms erupting over Mississippi into southern Tennessee.


(NASA)

4:38 p.m.: Eight tornado warnings are active from central Mississippi to northwest Alabama. More damage pics out of Tupelo:

4:23 p.m.: Watch: Flustered Tupelo TV meteorologist (WTVA) evacuates studio as large tornado bears down

4:12 p.m.: More damage/images out of Tupelo.

4:09 p.m.: Parts of 11 counties in Mississippi are under tornado warnings.

4:03 p.m.: A large, damaging tornado has reportedly tracked through the Tupelo, Miss. area.  Some tweets:

Overview, 3:45 p.m.: Following Monday’s deadly tornado outbreak from Kansas to Arkansas, a new round of violent thunderstorms is erupting in the Southern U.S.  Tornadoes have already developed and additional tornadoes will form through this evening, a few of which may be intense.  Damaging winds and large hail will also accompany some storms.

The zone of greatest concern extends from northeast Louisiana through Mississippi into northwest Alabama and southern Tennessee where a “particularly dangerous situation” tornado watch has been issued.  Strong tornadoes and hail to three inches in diameter could occur in this area (or have already), which includes Jackson, Miss., Tupelo, Miss. and Huntsville, Ala.

Particularly dangerous tornado watch area outlined in red. Red shaded polygons indicate active tornado warnings at 3:45 p.m. EDT. (SPC)
Particularly dangerous tornado watch area outlined in red. Red shaded polygons indicate active tornado warnings at 3:45 p.m. EDT. (SPC)

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has declared part of this region – from central Mississippi to northwest Arkansas – under a rare “high risk” of severe thunderstorms.  This is the second straight day SPC has issued a “high risk” designation.  It’s the first case of back-to-back high risk days since April 2011.

“Confidence has increased in greater coverage of tornadoes, warranting the high risk upgrade,” writes SPC.  “Significant tornadoes are expected.”


Significant tornado parameter (STP). Values greater than 1 have been associated with elevated risk of strong tornadoes (SPC)

Tornado watches have also been hoisted in 1) eastern Tennessee, extreme eastern Kentucky, and extreme southwest Virginia – including Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Bristol, and 2) southern Iowa, western Illinois, and northwest Missouri – including St. Louis and Des Moines.

Tornado watches in effect as 3:45 p.m. EDT (SPC)
Tornado watches in effect as 3:45 p.m. EDT (SPC)

Numerous tornado warnings, for either doppler-indicated tornadoes and/or tornadoes spotted on the ground – were in effect as of 3:45 p.m.

Link: Active tornado warnings

Across the lower 48 states, more than 45 million are under an elevated risk of severe thunderstorms today.


Areas under elevated risk of severe thunderstorms (slight, moderate or high) in yellow, red, and pink-shaded areas (SPC)

A strong upper level low pressure system over the Plains is pumping extremely moist, unstable air into South out of the Gulf of Mexico.  Meanwhile, changing winds with height – or strong wind shear – due a strong high-altiude jet stream charging into the region from the west – is helping developing storms rotate and turn tornadic.

You can track the storm activity on the interactive map below.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Local