AccuWeather is wrapping up live coverage of the deadly tornadoes that decimated parts of the Midwest and South. AccuWeather meteorologists are now warning that another severe weather outbreak could unfold on Tuesday and Wednesday. For additional coverage, stream AccuWeather NOW anytime on our website. Stay up to date on the latest weather in your area by downloading the AccuWeather mobile app and visiting AccuWeather.com. And keep an eye on weather news and forecasts by following AccuWeather on:
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A damaging line of severe weather swept across Ohio into Saturday afternoon, resulting in several damage reports. Trees and power lines were reported down around Coshocton, Ohio, located about 60 miles northeast of Columbus. To the northeast in Dover, Mineral City and Sherrodsville, Ohio, widespread power lines were reported with some trees falling on houses, according to a 911 call center report. No injuries were reported in those locations. In Belmont, Ohio, located just west of Wheeling, West Virginia, fiber optic cables were downed from the severe weather. Wind gusts exceeded 50 mph in several locations including Cleveland and Middlefield, Ohio.
The National Weather Service survey team in Little Rock confirmed high end EF 3 damage from Friday afternoon's tornado. The survey team estimated the tornado path length was between 20 and 25 miles long. The tornado was estimated to have peak winds of 165 mph. "This storm survey is ongoing and will take several days to complete," the NWS said in a Twitter post on Saturday afternoon.
A severe thunderstorm watch was issued in parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York on Saturday afternoon. The watch includes major cities such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Rochester. The area the watch covers includes a population of over 10 million people, according to the National Weather Service. Isolated hail, scattered wind gusts up to 70 mph and a couple tornadoes are all possible. The watch is in effect until 6 p.m. EDT.
As severe weather continues tracking eastward, storms have left behind several thousand power outages. One day after tornadic storms affected Arkansas, the state is still reporting over 40,000 customers without power as of Saturday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us. Pulaski County, where Little Rock is located, leads the state with over 34,000 outages. Severe weather has also led to power outages in the Midwest such as in Illinois, where over 20,000 customers are without power. Ohio leads the nation in outages with over 120,000 customers, with several of its counties reporting over 2,000 outages.
Damage in Little Rock, Arkansas, was “heartbreaking” to see this morning, AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell said, as he reported live from the city after Friday’s deadly tornado. Wadell pointed to several homes throughout a neighborhood that were severely damaged, including an exterior wall that was blown off the second story of a brick home. There have been reports of at least two dozen injuries in Little Rock, as well as one fatality. Wadell said that things may have been worse if the tornado struck at night, as the daytime tornado meant many locals were either adults working in sturdy buildings or children in school buildings.
Arkansas National Guard members are out helping state and local police keep an eye on the hardest-hit areas of Little Rock, with every hand on deck a necessity during the tornado aftermath. “Resources [are] being stretched thin across this region,” Wadell said. “There are a lot of … volunteer groups and organizations that have been busy over this past week ever since the tornadoes that we dealt with last Friday in Mississippi.”
A powerful tornado devastated many homes in Little Rock, Arkansas, among other hard-hit regions of the state on March 31. AccuWeather’s Bill Wadell described the aftermath as “heartbreaking.”
The same system responsible for Friday’s devastating tornadoes in the Midwest and South will produce another round of severe weather on Saturday across the East Coast. Severe thunderstorms have already developed across north-central Ohio, and AccuWeather meteorologists say that the threat will increase across the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic throughout the day. People in and around Pittsburgh, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore should all prepare for storms that could disrupt weekend activities. Damaging winds will be the primary threat with AccuWeather Local StormMax™ wind gusts of 80 mph possible, but the most vigorous storms will also be capable of producing hail and isolated tornadoes. Damaging storms are also possible farther south across the Carolinas and into Georgia.
The interior of store is damaged after a severe storm swept through Little Rock, Ark., Friday, March 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo)
Friday afternoon quickly turned chaotic in Little Rock, Arkansas, as a large, extremely dangerous tornado ripped its way across the heart of the state. The National Weather Service issued a rare tornado emergency for the city, a special tornado warning that is only issued when there is a high likelihood of fatalities and widespread damage. William Williams is an employee at a Little Rock supermarket and was working when the massive tornado approached the city. “Everything happened in like five seconds. It came – boom,” Williams told CNN affiliate KATV.
Williams took shelter in the store with shoppers and other employees, and when the tornado passed, he stepped outside to see the catastrophic destruction. “You could hear a lot of commotion and stuff. … I go outside, and it is crazy. People had blood all over their faces. … I’m just thankful that I’m alive.” Over 37,000 electric customers in Pulaski County, Arkansas, home to Little Rock, are still in the dark, according to PowerOutage.us. Some customers could be without power throughout the weekend as crews begin the long and arduous task of cleaning up after the twister.
The death toll from this week’s severe weather outbreak grew in Mississippi Saturday morning. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency told WCBI News that one person died and four others were injured in a tornado that hit Pontotoc, Mississippi, early Saturday morning. Damage south of Pontotoc, just west of Tupelo, included downed trees and power lines along Highway 15. The nationwide death toll now stands at 11, with fatalities also reported in Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana and Illinois.
A massive cleanup and recovery effort is underway across Arkansas after tornadoes sliced through the state on March 31.
A deadly tornado that hit the northwest side of Little Rock Friday afternoon has left locals trying to save what they can from damaged homes and businesses. The Pulaski County Office of Emergency Management told KATV News that one fatality was confirmed in North Little Rock, while at least 24 people were hospitalized in the Little Rock area as of late Friday afternoon. “We responded to overturned vehicles, heavy damage to residential [homes] and businesses … along with downed trees, downed power lines,” Little Rock Fire Department Chief Delphone Hubbard said at a press conference Friday. Arkansas was put under a state of emergency Friday, with Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders stating that she has requested federal assistance in the aftermath of the storms. “Our message and our mission is really simple. The people come first, and the paperwork will come second,” Sanders said Friday.
Authorities work the scene at the Apollo Theatre after a severe spring storm caused damage and injuries during a concert, late Friday, March 31, 2023, in Belvidere, Ill. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Around 260 people gathered at Apollo Theater in Belvedere, Illinois, on Friday evening for a concert, but the event ended in devastation as a tornado roared through the town. The theater roof collapsed during the show, killing one person and injuring 28 others. Gabrielle Lewellyn just entered the Apollo Theater just moments before the collapse occurred, according to The Associated Press. “I was there within a minute before it came down,” Lewellyn said. “The winds, when I was walking up to the building, it went like from zero to a thousand within five seconds.” The local police department received calls about the roof collapse at 7:48 p.m. CDT.
“They dragged someone out from the rubble and I sat with him and I held his hand and I was (telling him) ‘It’s going to be OK.’ I didn’t really know much else what to do,” Lewellyn said. Police at the scene described the collapse as “chaos, absolute chaos,” according to the AP. The tornado in Belvedere, located about 70 miles northwest of Chicago, was one of nearly 60 preliminary tornado reports across the United States on Friday.
The death toll from Friday’s severe weather continues to grow, as four people have been confirmed dead due to a tornado in Arkansas Friday evening. In Wynne, Arkansas, about 50 miles west of Memphis, the Cross County coroner confirmed the fatalities just before midnight, local time, WJTV reported. A local hospital reported that at least 26 people were admitted into the facility with storm-related injuries, with injuries ranging from critical to non-critical. Major structural damage was also reported in Wynne, including the destruction of Wynne High School and several local homes.
At least three people have been reported dead in Sullivan, Indiana, following severe weather in the county, WTHR-TV reported Saturday morning. Two fatalities were initially confirmed when Indiana State Police Sgt. Ames told WTHI-TV. Several tornado-warned storms rolled through Indiana on Friday night into Saturday morning, leaving behind a path of destruction for some areas. Sullivan County, Indiana, was hit especially hard by a possible tornado with the county EMA Director, Jim Pirtle, describing the damage as "terrible," according to WRTV. Many people were reportedly trapped in their basements following the storm, according to Pirtle. Numerous power lines were down in the area and multiple gas leaks were reported, according to WISH-TV. A shelter was set up for storm victims at the Sullivan County emergency management building. As a result of the storms, Sullivan County Commissioners signed an emergency declaration early Saturday. Nearby Owen and Johnson Counties also reported notable damage, including in the Whiteland area.
Friday’s severe weather outbreak has continued to wreak havoc on power customers into Saturday, with 10 states each reporting at least 25,000 outages as of 6:15 a.m. CDT. Indiana led all states in outages Saturday morning, according to PowerOutage.US. The state had a total of 76,067 customers without power, including nearly 5,000 in Sullivan County where deadly storms struck on Friday. Two other states, Minnesota and Arkansas, both topped the 50,000 outages mark, with 73,670 and 52,788 outages, respectively. Minnesota’s outages were concentrated in the southeastern wing of the state, namely Washington County and Dakota County, while the majority of Arkansas outages came in the central part of the state in Pulaski County. Other states above 25,000 outages Saturday morning were Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri.
As severe weather hit portions of the Midwest on Friday, high winds were also following the cold front triggering the dangerous thunderstorms, causing other hazards. Wind gusts as strong as 54 mph blasted through Oklahoma City, stirring up blowing dust and quickly fanning the flames of fires. The Oklahoma City Fire Department battled two structure fires and five grass fires during the afternoon hours, according to an update sent in a tweet. Numerous evacuations were issued as structures were threatened, and firefighters urged people to “be cautious and drive slowly through the smoke.” Portions of I-35 were also closed, according to KOCO News.
Yet another tornado has been confirmed in Alabama, this time near the town of Hazel Green, which is located north of Huntsville near the border with Tennessee. This tornado was reported around 3:10 a.m. CDT by the National Weather Service. Locations impacted include Fisk and Plevna in Alabama and Beans Creek and Flintville in Tennessee. The original tornado warning was in effect until 3:30 a.m. CDT but was extended until 4:00 a.m. CDT as the storm continued to produce a confirmed tornado into Tennessee, prompting a Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) tornado warning for New Market, Tennessee.
Even though downtown Memphis barely dodged several tornado warnings in the area Friday night into Saturday, the metro still experienced damage. As the severe storms moved through the city, one video captured the moment the strong winds snapped a large tree, causing it to fall onto a car below. Additional large trees and wires were reported down in parts of Memphis, according to the city fire department. No injuries were reported in Memphis, but several Memphis Fire Department crews were working rescue calls throughout the city.
A confirmed tornado was located near Hackleburg, Alabama, which is located to the east of Tupelo, Mississippi, early Saturday morning. The radar-confirmed tornado was reported at 2:38 a.m. CDT according to the National Weather Service. Locations impacted include Hackleburg, Bear Creek, Tessner and Upper Bear Creek Reservoir. A Tornado Warning remains in effect until 3 a.m. CDT.
A confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado was reported near Woodbury, Tennessee, early Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service. The radar confirmed tornado was moving northeast at 40 mph as of 1:58 a.m. CDT. Woodbury is located about 18 miles east of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. "You are in a life-threatening situation. Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter," NWS warned.
Widespread powerful thunderstorms have left vast swaths of damage in their wake and power outages continue to mount. As of early Saturday morning, five states counted over 50,000 customers without power due to thunderstorms, with nearly 100,000 in the dark in Indiana. That figure includes Sullivan County, Indiana, where over 7,000 of the county's 9,500+ customers are without power after the town of Sullivan took a direct hit from a strong tornado Friday evening. At least two deaths have been reported in Sullivan, along with numerous injuries.
Strong winds caused the roof to give way at the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, Illinois, as severe thunderstorms swept through the area Friday evening, leaving at least one dead and 28 injured, according to local fire officials. A line of powerful thunderstorms raced across Belvidere, which is roughly 70 miles northwest of Chicago, after 7:30 p.m. CDT. A sold-out concert was in progress at the time and 260 concertgoers were in the theater when the roof collapsed, according to the fire department. An official said that of the 28 injured, five had severe injuries, 18 had moderate injuries and five others had minor injuries as a result of the collapse.
The fallen marquee is seen at the front entrance of the Apollo Theatre where a roof collapsed during a tornado in Belvidere, Ill., during a heavy metal concert, late Friday, March 31, 2023. Belvidere Fire Department Chief Shawn Schadle said 260 people were in the venue at the time. (AP Photo/Mattt Marton)
A new tornado watch has been issued that includes Rolling Fork, Mississippi, a town devastated by a tornado one week ago. This makes five tornado watches in effect from Texas to Wisconsin as of 8:45 p.m. CDT. Seven tornado watches have been issued today.
“Just the sheer numbers of warnings speak to how big this outbreak is,” AccuWeather Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell said. Over the last hour, at one point, there were two dozen severe thunderstorm warnings and a dozen tornado warnings in effect, half of which were confirmed tornadoes, all at the same time. “This is at the high end of what you see with an outbreak,” Ferrell added. As of 5:30 CT Friday, 120 tornado warnings and 251 severe thunderstorm warnings had been issued.
A storm chaser confirmed that a tornado was crossing the Mississippi River from Arkansas into Mississippi at 7:25 CDT Friday evening. AccuWeather meteorologists say the tornado will be passing to the south of downtown Memphis, but is expected to cross I-55 in far northwest Mississippi and potentially I-269 as well. Golf ball-sized hail can also fall with this severe thunderstorm. The National Weather Service said the large tornado was a particularly dangerous and life-threatening situation.
Two tornadoes were reported in Illinois Friday afternoon as a line of dangerous thunderstorms crossed into the state. One tornado was spotted near Eureka, Illinois, which is about about 17 miles northeast of Peoria, Illinois. Another was spotted in Pleasant Plains in Sangamon County, just west of Springfield.
The damaging tornadoes were part of several that touched down across the country on Friday, including in Little Rock, Arkansas, and in Iowa. Confirmed tornado warnings continued to be issued in Illinois and Iowa through Friday evening.
A spokesperson for the Baptist Health Medical Centers in Little Rock and North Little Rock, Arkansas, said the hospitals are treating 23 people for injuries suffered in the large tornado that tore through the city earlier this afternoon. She said five of those patients are in critical condition.
Emergency personnel check people in a parking lot after severe storm swept through Little Rock, Ark., Friday, March 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo)
AccuWeather meteorologist and storm chaser Tony Laubach captured footage of a massive tornado touching down in Keokuk County, Iowa, Friday afternoon. Debris was shooting up into the air as the tornado slowly churned and heavy rain poured down. Multiple power lines were ripped out of the ground and acres of farmland damaged. At one point, the sky darkened quickly just before the twister made its way across a street.
A huge tornado was spotted on the ground in Keokuk County, Iowa, on March 31.
Little Rock, Arkansas, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. is seeking National Guard assistance to help local emergency crews respond to the tornado aftermath in the city after a large twister ripped through parts of the state, injuring several people, officials said.
Scott said he has reached out to Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders to request Guard assistance. Huckabee Sanders said the tornado, which touched down in the early afternoon Friday, local time, caused “significant damage” in central Arkansas, tearing off roofs, overturning vehicles and uprooting trees throughout the city. Scott reminded residents to “please stay away from the affected areas to allow emergency responders access.” Officials said it was too soon to determine the total number of injuries.
Huckabee Sanders said she is in “constant communication” with State Police and state emergency coordinators who are working with local law enforcement to assist those injured. “Praying for all those who were and remain in the path of this storm,” the governor said on Twitter.
The safest place to be during a tornado is in an underground shelter, but if you find yourself on the road during a tornado threat, it's important to know how to take cover properly when there are few options. Experts say never to seek shelter under a bridge or overpass during a tornado, as was the case just south of Malcom, Iowa, Friday, when a stretch of Interstate 80 was placed under a confirmed tornado warning and vehicles stopped to take cover underneath. Wind speeds become amplified under an overpass and that area offers little to no protection from flying debris.
AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist William Clark warned there aren’t any completely safe options if someone is driving near a tornado, just less dangerous ones. “The safest option is always to seek shelter in a sturdy structure, especially underground,” Clark said. “This can be achieved if the tornado is visible at a far distance and there is light traffic, by driving at right angles to the perceived path of the tornado and seeking shelter in a sturdy building off the roadway.” If reaching a structure is not possible, experts recommend staying in the car with your seat belt on, getting as low as possible and finding cover. It’s essential to protect your head."
Storm chaser Brett Adair captured this video of a tornado barreling toward Little Rock, Arkansas, on March 31, and its destructive aftermath.
A large, catastrophic tornado roared through areas north and west of downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, on Friday afternoon, laying waste to everything in its path. The twister tracked across a highway, flipping cars and blocking traffic. Large trees were also uprooted and buildings were severely damaged. Storm Chaser Brett Adair was in the area and captured footage of the tornado and the immediate aftermath. More storms are possible in central Arkansas through Friday afternoon, which could disrupt any ongoing search and rescue operations.
Millions of people from Wisconsin to Texas are under a tornado watch as severe thunderstorms escalate across the central United States. The most recent tornado watch was issued for northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including Chicago and Milwaukee. Tornado watches extend nearly 1,000 miles from southern Wisconsin to northeastern Texas, with more watches possible through Friday evening as severe thunderstorms move eastward.
The view of a tornado Friday afternoon in Little Rock, Arkansas, as seen from Colonial Glen area of the city. (Tristan Acker)
A large, fast-moving tornado roared through central Arkansas early Friday afternoon near the Little Rock area. Preliminary reports of damage to buildings and disruptions on highways have been reported in the wake of the twister. Power outages are also spiking in Pulaski County, the county in which Little Rock is located. Over 50,000 electric customers were without power, and rising, according to PowerOutage.us. A severe thunderstorm immediately proceeded the tornado-warned storm, bringing heavy rain, frequent lightning and gusty winds to areas that were hit by the tornado. There is no word on storm-related injuries.
A radar image of the Little Rock area at the time the tornado emergency was in effect. (AccuWeather)
A life-threatening situation was unfolding around Little Rock, Arkansas, with a rare tornado emergency being issued for the city and surrounding areas. “A large, extreme dangerous and potentially deadly tornado is on the ground,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said. Meteorologists at the NWS office in Little Rock took shelter during the emergency and temporarily transfered all operational duties to the office in Memphis, Tennessee, until the threat has ended. A tornado emergency is reserved for the most extreme situations when there is a significant risk of damage and a high likelihood of fatalities.
AccuWeather meteorologists have highlighted two “extreme” risk zones for Friday’s severe weather. The first extreme risk zone will stretch from southeastern Iowa and far northeastern Missouri to northwestern Illinois. Another extreme risk area will span across portions of eastern Arkansas, far southwestern Tennessee and northwestern Mississippi.
AccuWeather has four severe weather risk categories, ranging from some (which is the lowest threat level) to extreme (the highest threat level). Forecasters warn that violent, long-track tornadoes will be possible with Friday’s storms. While an extreme risk category has been issued in the past, it is “rare” for AccuWeather forecasters to issue one, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden landed in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, Friday to view first hand the devastation wrought by the EF4 tornado that struck a week ago today — just as a new round of severe storms threatens those same hard-hit regions of the U.S.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden tour a storm-stricken area in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, on March 31, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Today's outbreak of severe weather is forecast to move into Mississippi and the rest of the central U.S. by late afternoon into Friday evening, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. About a dozen states – from the Midwest to eastern Texas – are currently under severe weather alerts, raising the risk of tornadoes and flash flooding, through 8 p.m. CDT. An exceedingly rare extreme risk alert has been issued by AccuWeather meteorologists in some areas, affecting millions of residents.
At least 21 people were killed during last week's tornadoes in Mississippi. The Bidens plan to meet with residents and first responders as they receive a briefing from officials on the response and recovery efforts. Also, the president will deliver remarks at press conference scheduled for 1:25 p.m. local time to reaffirm his “commitment to supporting the people of Mississippi as long as it takes,” according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. It’s unclear when the Bidens will be heading back to the White House.
President Joe Biden talks with Rolling Fork, Miss., Mayor Eldridge Walker, second from right, as he and first lady Jill Biden arrive to survey the damage after a deadly tornado and severe storm moved through the area in Rolling Fork, Miss., Friday, March 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
With the severe weather risk escalating across the Midwest, school districts across Illinois are announcing early dismissals for students. Typically schools do not consider early dismissals, but according to Illinois-based news station WMBD, today is different. “We have a large number of families who are planning to travel this evening, the forecast is calling for some very severe weather conditions, and there are many members of our community expressing their anxiety tied to their experiences during the 2013 tornado [outbreak],” Beverly Manor School Superintendent Chad Allaman said. Several school districts around Memphis, Tennessee, have also decided to dismiss students early on Friday due to the looming thunderstorm and tornado risk.
Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer said Friday’s severe weather event will be a “widespread tornado outbreak,” during a live update. Reporting from St. Louis, Timmer said strong to potentially violent tornadoes will be possible from Iowa all the way down to Arkansas. Major metropolitan areas, such as St. Louis, Memphis and Des Moines will be at risk for severe weather. “These tornadoes are going to be very fast-moving,” said Timmer. “It’s very important to stay tuned to those severe weather watches and warnings today.”
The first tornado watch of the day has been issued for parts of the Midwest until 8 p.m. CDT and spans a large section of Missouri, far eastern Kansas, southern Iowa and western Illinois. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) called this a "particularly dangerous situation" with more than 5.1 million people will be under the tornado watch. Damaging winds gusts up to 70 mph, hail up to 3 inches in size and “a few intense tornadoes [are] likely,” according to the SPC. In addition to the tornado threat, severe storms could also feature frequent lightning. As storms track east during the day on Friday, the SPC warns additional tornado watches will be likely.
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) highlighted two zones with a risk category of “high.” The first high risk zone stretches from portions of southeastern Iowa to northwestern Illinois and far northeastern Missouri. The second high risk zone spans from eastern Arkansas to northwestern and northern Mississippi and far southwestern Tennessee. Memphis is included in the second area placed under a high risk. This is the first high risk area the SPC has issued since March 25, 2021.
AccuWeather has four severe weather risk categories, ranging from some to extreme. The SPC is different, in that it has five risk categories, ranging from marginal to high. The high risk means long-lived, particularly intense, severe storms are expected within these newly defined areas. Numerous intense and long-tracked tornadoes are possible. Nearly 3 million people are located within the high risk area. Residents should have a plan in place for when storms arrive and have their phones charged in the event that the storm creates widespread power outages.
Severe weather will target a large stretch of the U.S. on Friday. Chicago is under a moderate threat — a level two out of four of AccuWeather’s severe weather risk — on Friday. AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dean DeVore warns that severe thunderstorms could start as early as 4 p.m. CDT in the Windy City. DeVore explains the squall line will move through Chicago from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. CDT.
While the biggest risk for Chicago will be straight-line winds, there is a possibility of a tornado spinning up. Although, Devore warns that the southern and western suburbs of the city will have the greatest risk for any torandic activity. After the severe weather threat ends, “the upper level energy of the storm wraps around cold air, and could bring snow showers to Chicago for a time Saturday morning,” said DeVore.
Aaron Jayjack was live on the interstate in Des Moines, Iowa, talking chase plans for the storm threatening the Midwest. Today, Des Moines is in the crosshairs for severe storms.
Storm Chaser Aaron Jayjack was live near Interstate 80 in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday morning talking chase plans for the storm threatening the Midwest. “I am tracking a potent, early-spring storm that will unfold today across a large portion of the United States,” Jayjack said. He warned that supercells on Friday will be capable of strong to violent, long-track tornadoes. “These storms will be moving very, very fast here in the Midwest and down South.” Jayjack urged residents in the path of Friday’s severe weather threat to take warnings seriously and to have a plan in place.
A destructive EF4 tornado barreled through Rolling Fork, Mississippi, last week, killing at least 21 people. The storm leveled several neighborhoods and knocked power out for thousands. As severe weather targets the central United States on Friday, Rolling Fork will likely avoid the worst of the storms. AccuWeather forecasters have placed Rolling Fork in the “some” risk zone — the lowest of four severe weather risk categories. While storms will be possible in this area, the worst of the storms will likely hit farther north. However, this does not mean residents should let their guard down. Residents should have multiple ways to receive weather alerts.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are scheduled to visit Rolling Fork on Friday to survey the storm damage, meet with homeowners and get a briefing from state and federal officials, The Associated Press reported. During the visit, Biden is expected to announce that the federal government will cover the total cost of the state’s emergency measures for the next 30 days. This will include debris cleanup and overtime for first responders, the AP reported.
Damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes are expected in more than a dozen states on Friday, and the timing of the storms will line up perfectly with the conclusion of Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Iowa. Throughout the final week of March, schools across the state have been preparing students and staff for severe weather, including tornado drills. “We always need to have a protocol in place to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” said Jaime Meyer, the curriculum director for Wilton Community School District in east-central Iowa. According to Iowa-based news station WQAD, it only took two minutes for everyone in the school to move to a shelter in the school during a tornado drill. The training and storm preparations throughout the week could pay off on Friday, with thunderstorms in the forecast for most of Iowa on Friday afternoon and Friday evening.
According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, more than 75 million Americans are at risk of some form of severe weather on Friday. Major cities that are likely to be hit with severe thunderstorms capable of generating a tornado include St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. “The severe storms will approach and swing through the Chicago metro area from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, which is an extremely busy time for airlines and vehicle traffic as people begin their weekend journeys and end their weekday activities,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
The severe storms will likely push through St. Louis on Friday afternoon but may not hit Memphis and Indianapolis until after dark. Potent thunderstorms are likely to swing through Detroit and Nashville late in the evening. The risks of tornadoes, damaging straight-line wind gusts and torrential downpours will extend well beyond the daylight hours on Friday as the storms advance across the lower Great Lakes and the Ohio and Tennessee valleys prior to reaching the western slopes of the Appalachians. Forecasters urge residents and visitors in the path of the storms to keep up to date on severe weather and tornado watches and warnings through the nighttime hours. Even where tornadoes do not strike, the force of the wind in the storms will be strong enough to push over poorly rooted trees and break off large tree limbs. As a result, there could be widespread power outages, incidents of property damage and blocked roads. In addition, the winds could blow over trucks and significantly damage mobile homes.
With severe weather in the forecast, it is important to understand and prepare for the risks that are inbound. These are five tips that can help you and your family prepare in advance:
•Shelter safety: What to look for: It is important to make sure the storm shelter is safe and provides an escape if the door is blocked by potential debris.
• Access to shelter and supplies: Having a storm shelter that cannot be accessed effectively defeats the purpose of having one at all. Shelters should be as easily accessible as possible.
• Security and restoration planning: If doors and windows are shattered and missing, securing the property quickly is essential. Making sure the property is structurally sound and having a repair company in mind should be planned before the severe weather.
• Insurance and financial protection: Consumers should look at the types of disasters their area may be prone to, to determine if they have the proper coverage in place.
• Protecting irreplaceable property with sentimental value: Some items may never be able to be replaced after a disaster. For these items, it is a good idea to take preventative measures to protect personal possessions that hold sentimental value.
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