AccuWeather is wrapping up live coverage on the severe weather outbreak that triggered destructive tornadoes, killing at least two people, and knocking out power for thousands across the southern U.S. The system will continue to charge eastward and sweep across southern Georgia, southeastern South Carolina and northern Florida through Wednesday. While conditions will be less favorable for severe weather, a few damaging storms are still possible, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. 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:
Intense winds and destructive tornadoes roared across the southeastern United States Tuesday afternoon through Tuesday night, and thousands of residents are waking up this morning in the dark. As of 8 a.m. CST, over 55,000 electric customers were without power across Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama, according to PowerOutage.us. Alabama accounted for over half of the region’s power outages, with nearly 34,000 outages reported. More power outages will be possible through Wednesday as a line of severe storms advances eastward across Florida and southern Georgia.
Two people were killed amid destructive severe weather Wednesday morning north of Montgomery, Alabama, according to county officials. The National Weather Service office in Birmingham confirmed that a tornado had struck the area early in the morning, and several homes and buildings in the area had sustained “substantial” damage, the Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Christina Thornton told the Montgomery Adviser. Heavy rescue efforts are ongoing in the area along Lower Wetumpka Road, where the fatalities were confirmed.
Tornadoes that began causing damage late on Tuesday afternoon continued into Tuesday night. Through the predawn hours on Wednesday morning, 22 tornadoes had preliminarily touched down in three states. Two tornadoes were reported in Louisiana, one of which caused significant damage. The majority of the tornadoes tore across Mississippi and Alabama. In addition to damage, some of the tornadoes also caused injuries and the Louisiana tornado caused several animals to perish. Below is a summary of some of the noteworthy damage reports.
While tornadoes touched down Tuesday, the likelihood of the most damaging tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, an EF5, was low. Per the EF Scale, an EF5 tornado is one where winds reach above 200 mph, leaving incredible damage in its wake. The last time the National Weather Service rated a U.S. tornado EF5 was on May 20, 2013, when an EF5 ripped a 14-mile path through southern areas of Oklahoma City, including the destruction of Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado caused $2 billion worth of damages.
There have been four tornadoes rated EF4 in the U.S. in 2022, meaning the tornado hit wind speeds between 166 and 200 mph. These occurred on March 5 in Iowa, on April 5 in Georgia, and on November 4 in both Texas and Oklahoma. AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno stated that “discreet” cells could bring tornadoes of at least EF3 strength, meaning wind speeds of between 136 and 165 mph.
Drone images of the Country Club neighborhood in Idabel, Oklahoma, after a tornado tore through the area. (AccuWeather/Bill Wadell)
A potent cold front that produced an outbreak of dangerous tornadoes Tuesday across parts of the South will continue to track east on Wednesday. AccuWeather meteorologists said the cold blast could unleash more potentially damaging storms, giving residents a rude awakening and motorists a slower commute Wednesday morning in and around Atlanta, New Orleans and Montgomery, Alabama, as the storm charges eastward.
"On Wednesday, conditions in the atmosphere will begin to trend less favorable for severe weather, but that may not be enough to prevent isolated damaging storms from occurring," AccuWeather Meteorologist Joe Bauer said. Experts expect damaging wind gusts, before, during and after the rain, and heavy downpours as primary hazards, yet they said a brief tornado or two could be possible.
With the fast-moving nature of this front, it could be nearing Panama City and Tallahassee, Florida, by mid-morning and early afternoon hours Wednesday, but thunderstorms might run out of steam and become just heavy downpours. Experts said drier and chillier weather will sweep into the Southeast by Thursday, with a quick rebound in temperatures expected by the weekend.
While severe thunderstorms were producing tornadoes, hail was also an issue. Some of the largest hail fell in Mississippi, with hail as large as 2 inches in diameter being reported. Although tornadoes did not touch down farther north, hail up to the size of golf balls, or 1.75 inches in diameter, fell as far north as Tennessee.
A second tornado in Lowndes County, Mississippi has left significant damage in the area, according to local officials. After a tornado was confirmed by radar Tuesday evening at Columbus Air Force Base, a second tornado was confirmed southwest of Columbus, causing structural damage to a local volunteer fire and rescue building. Caledonia, Mississippi Mayor Betty Darnell told AccuWeather’s Amy Haller that the first tornado caused a gas leak in the area, and that several thousand were without power as of Tuesday night. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office urged residents to not leave their homes and to not drive through the community of Steens, as there could be active power lines down across roads and yards. The first tornado near Steens left residents temporarily trapped in a local grocery store before they made it out safely.
Two people were injured Tuesday evening in Louisiana as the result of a confirmed tornado in Caldwell Parish. According to Caldwell Parish Sheriff Clay Bennett, deputies are on the scene of significant damage after the tornado tore through Tuesday evening. Trees were also reported to have fallen on homes in Caldwell Parish, about 65 miles northeast of Alexandria, and debris was reportedly thrown thousands of feet into the air.
Damage after a tornado touched down in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana (Photo by Jake Lambright)
Tuesday’s tornado outbreak turned perilous for residents of Steens, Mississippi, during the evening hours. A tornado was confirmed by radar at approximately 6:30 p.m. at nearby Columbus Air Force Base in Lowndes County, close to the Alabama state line. After the tornado hit, individuals were temporarily trapped inside a local grocery store. Lowndes County EMA Director Cindy Lawrence stated that those trapped made it out safe, and that another family trapped nearby inside a local home also made it out safely. A nearby church also had a steeple blown over as part of the damage in the area. The tornado was reported as moving past the Alabama state line into the western part of that state.
A steeple at Mt. Zion Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Steens, Mississippi was blown down as a result of a confirmed tornado in the area Tuesday evening. (Photo by Jesse Both)
The damage brought to the south-central United States on Tuesday extended into Alabama when a barn was left in tatters. In Leighton, Alabama, in the northeast corner of the state, the Brick Hatton Fire Department took photos of a local barn that was ripped up by storms in the area, with a roof, a mobile home and vehicular equipment all damaged. A tornado was also confirmed on the western side of Alabama in the southern half of Lamar County, causing officials to tell residents to shelter in a safe place.
With a tornado threat in place for the south-central United States Tuesday, advanced warning for an approaching tornado can help save lives. The National Weather Service can issue a tornado warning as a strengthening thunderstorm begins to rotate, meaning that a tornado is imminent and those in the path of the storm should take immediate cover. In the case of a large and destructive tornado already touching ground for an extended period of time, and approaching a populated area, the NWS can issue a tornado emergency. There have been five tornado emergencies issued in the U.S. in 2022, including two on Nov. 4 during a tornado outbreak in Texas and Oklahoma.
Louisiana has begun to seriously feel the impacts from Tuesday’s severe weather outbreak, as a large and destructive tornado was confirmed in the central part of the state Tuesday evening. In Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, about 65 miles northeast of Alexandria, a large tornado was confirmed around 7:15 p.m. local time. Reports of damage quickly came in, with trees reportedly blown onto houses according to local law enforcement, and debris thrown thousands of feet into the air. Caldwell Parish was given an all-clear by the National Weather Service’s Shreveport office at 7:30 p.m. local time. AccuWeather’s Amy Haller spoke with Caldwell Parish’s emergency management director, who stated that one roof was taken off a home, and that tarps were put on the home for a temporary fix.
Tornado carnage continues into Tuesday evening in Mississippi, with damage being reported from a confirmed tornado in Choctaw County at around 6:30 p.m. local time. Choctaw County is located in the north-central area of the state, about 100 miles northeast of Jackson. WCBI News in northern Mississippi first reported the damage, stating that first responders were on the way to the county. The National Weather Service stated that a tree fell onto a house in Choctaw as a result of the twister. South of Jackson, in the town of Tilton, debris was reported with possible structural damage.
In Mississippi, a second tornado was confirmed late Tuesday afternoon, continuing the severe weather outbreak the south-central United States has experienced. At 5:10 p.m. local time, a confirmed tornado was located in Bassfield, a town about 65 miles southwest of Jackson. Law enforcement confirmed the tornado touched down. Possible structural damage was reported as an impact, as well as potential damage to local mobile homes. A storm chaser caught video of the tornado, along with lightning from the storm captured by a local resident:
Bassfield is no stranger to tornadoes, as a strong EF4 tornado struck near the town on April 12, 2020.
Tennis-ball-sized hail was reported Tuesday afternoon, with AccuWeather's Tony Laubach submitting a picture of a 2-inch hailstone near where a tornado was spotted around Vaiden, Mississippi. Hail that size in November in Mississippi is unusual, but it was reported on Nov. 7, 2018, and 2.75-inch-hail also fell there on Nov. 29, 2016.
A 2-inch hailstone fell near Vaiden, Mississippi on Tuesday, November 29, 2022.
A tornado was reported by spotters in central Mississippi Tuesday afternoon, part of the continuing severe weather outbreak in the south-central United States. At 3:29 p.m. local time, there was a tornado reported by spotters near the town of Vaiden, Mississippi, approximately 80 miles northeast of Jackson, with the storm moving northeast at 50 mph at the time of confirmation. Tennis ball sized hail was also reported, with a storm chaser submitting a picture of a 2-inch sized piece of hail near where the tornado was spotted.
While all severe weather outbreaks could be dangerous in some way or another, the “Particularly Dangerous Situation”(PDS) is reserved for certain situations. In the event of a tornado watch with the PDS wording, long-lived, intense tornadoes are likely, according to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). The wording may also be used in severe thunderstorm watches for widespread significant weather events such as derechos. “PDS watches are issued, when in the opinion of the forecaster, the likelihood of significant events is boosted by very volatile atmospheric conditions,” according to the SPC. “Usually this decision is based on a number of atmospheric clues and parameters, so the decision to issue a PDS watch is subject with no hard criteria.”
There have been only two other PDS watches issued during 2022, according to data from Iowa State University. Both occurred during May, one of which was for a severe thunderstorm watch across parts of the Plains and Midwest. The second was for a tornado warning issued across Minnesota and South Dakota. The PDS tornado watch issued Tuesday at the start of the severe weather outbreak was the first to be issued during the month of November since 2013, according to Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell.
With the severe weather outbreak underway for southern United States residents, AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno analyzed the threats to the region early Tuesday afternoon. Rayno pointed out that the dry air parked over the south-central U.S. is now leaving, increasing moisture in the upper and middle levels of the atmosphere. He noted that a warm front is heading across Mississippi and Arkansas, with the fronts notorious for producing severe weather, particularly tornadoes.
A future radar image for the remainder of Tuesday afternoon showed issues with individual “discrete cell” thunderstorms, which are storms that form on their own, allowing for more growth and maturity without competing with other storms for space and energy. Therefore, they can develop into a “supercell” thunderstorm that can contain a potentially strong tornado, some that can be of EF3 strength or above according to Rayno. Cities that may encounter discreet cell tornadoes on Tuesday include Memphis, Tennessee, and Alexandria, Louisiana. Tuesday evening will have more linear thunderstorms, which Rayno says can bring its own issues. “This is where the damaging wind threat increases,” Rayno said. “I’m not going to say the tornado threat necessarily decreases, because you can still get isolated tornadoes within these lines of thunderstorms.”
A severe weather risk that will target the south-central states on Tuesday will bring a substantial tornado threat from northeastern Louisiana and eastern Arkansas to southwestern Tennessee and northwestern Mississippi. According to AccuWeather forecasters, the majority of the twisters will occur after the sun has set, posing a greater threat to the public. “Nocturnal storm events often come as more of a surprise to people simply because they may not be as in touch with the environment around them as they are during the day, or they may be asleep,” emergency preparedness specialist Becky DePodwin said. “That’s why it’s so important to ensure you will be [woken] up by weather warnings issued for your location and to know the appropriate action when a warning is issued.”
One of the easiest ways to receive emergency weather notifications, including tornado warnings, is to download the free AccuWeather app on a smartphone. Residents across the south-central U.S. should have a plan in place, including locating a safe place within your home or relocating to a safe shelter before going to bed. “Mobile homes are not safe locations in an imminent tornado threat. If you live in a mobile home, have a plan to be in a safe structure well ahead of any tornado risk increasing,” AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter said. “This could include going to a neighbor’s home, friend or family or a shelter that communities may open.”
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for parts of Louisiana, southeastern Arkansas and central Mississippi as powerful thunderstorms begin to develop that are capable of spinning up twisters. This has been labeled a “particularly dangerous situation,” with numerous tornadoes expected, some of which are likely to be intense. “Many of the communities in the high risk for severe weather Tuesday into Tuesday night are especially vulnerable to tornadoes due to larger than average numbers of mobile homes, population density and other factors,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said. People who live in a mobile home should have a plan to move to a safe structure if a tornado approaches swiftly.
With the severe weather outbreak “imminent,” Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer began storm chasing around Yazoo City, Mississippi, late Tuesday morning. The outbreak will center on a large swath of the South, from western Texas eastward into Alabama, and northeastward into the Ohio Valley. However, the high threat area for Tuesday will center around northeastern Louisiana, southeast Arkansas and central and northern Mississippi, including cities such as Jackson, Greenville, Yazoo City and Tupelo, extending northward toward Memphis. Timmer warned that there was “definitely the potential for strong and potentially violent tornadoes,” as well as long-tracked supercells that could move from northeastern Louisiana into central Mississippi. “That’s just going to be a supercell factory today,” Timmer said, adding all ingredients were in place for long-track, violent tornadoes. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay tuned to those severe watches and warnings today across the mid-South.”
Classes have been canceled at several schools in central Mississippi due to the risk of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening. Vicksburg Warren School District will be closed all day due to potential safety concerns during after-school pickup, according to WLBT, a news station based out of Jackson, Mississippi. The Mississippi Achievement School District plans to let students out at noon ahead of the anticipated storms. Schools in Alabama, including those in Choctaw County, have also announced that students will be let out early Tuesday in response to the severe weather threat. Other school districts across the region may follow suit and announce early dismissals due to the impending severe weather.
While springtime is well-known for its severe weather outbreaks, there is a lesser-known secondary severe weather season during the autumn months. October and November can bring just as many tornado threats, damaging winds, flooding downpours and large hail as the season shifts into the colder months, and this year will be no different as a round of severe weather threatens 40 million people from Texas to Indiana on Tuesday night alone.
The most common area in the U.S. for severe weather during the fall stretches from Texas to Georgia, including areas from the lower and middle Mississippi River Valley and the Midwest, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham. Just because it’s a secondary season doesn’t make it any less deadly either. One of the more well-known fall severe weather event was on Dec. 10 and 11 in 2021 across the Midwest and mid-South when Mayfield, Kentucky, took a direct hit from an EF4 tornado amid a multi-state outbreak. At least 77 people lost their lives across the state, according to The Associated Press.The National Weather Service recorded at least 41 tornadoes associated with the outbreak, eight of which were in Kentucky.
Over 40 million people are at risk of severe weather through Tuesday night, with the most extreme conditions focusing on the lower Mississippi Valley. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned residents of the state and encouraged everyone to stay alert and monitor the weather as it unfolds. “In this case, much of the danger will continue into the overnight hours Tuesday when most people are asleep,” Edwards said. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to have your game plan in place to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
A satellite image of the southeastern United States late Tuesday morning. The colors in the clouds over northern Mississippi indicate where the GOES-EAST weather satellite has detected lightning. (NOAA)
Tornado watch: This means you are "watching" for something to happen. Usually issued a few hours before severe storms could hit a broad area. A watch is used to alert the public of a developing threat for tornadoes where conditions exist for creating tornadoes, but one has not necessarily formed yet. When under a watch, it is important to be prepared and remain vigilant.
Tornado warning: This means forecasters are "warning" you to take action and seek shelter immediately. It is more urgent than a tornado watch.Warnings are issued minutes before a tornado strikes a highly localized area. A tornado is imminent or has been detected on radar.
A simple way to remember the difference between both is using the taco analogy. A watch means the ingredients to make tacos are there, but the taco has not been made yet. A warning means the tacos have been made and are ready right now, eating them is coming very soon
The severe weather from the northwestern Gulf Coast to the Mississippi Valley is forecast to kick off Tuesday evening, meaning the risk of weather hazards under the cover of night is especially concerning, according to AccuWeather forecasters. Tornadoes striking at night are particularly dangerous because people are often sleeping or cannot easily see what is approaching, especially with night falling much earlier in the evening. “Additionally, many of the communities in the high risk for severe weather Tuesday into Tuesday night are especially vulnerable to tornadoes due to larger than average numbers of mobile homes, population density and other factors,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said.
• Install the free AccuWeather app and ensure that push notifications are on. An independent quality assurance study concluded that AccuWeather’s app was the first to deliver severe weather push notifications from the National Weather Service (NWS), and people have told AccuWeather that notifications from the app “literally saved our lives” during a severe weather outbreak.
• Have a battery-powered weather radio on hand. It’s another way to keep tabs on your local weather conditions.
• Prepare the essentials. Keep a flashlight, bottled water, closed-toed shoes and a puffy blanket on hand. Shoes will protect your feet in case you have to walk through rubble, and blankets and mattresses can be used to shield your body and head from flying debris.
• Charge your phone ahead of the storm. If the storm knocks the power out, you’ll want to ensure your phone is working in the case of an emergency.
•Have a safe location in mind. All household members should have a plan on where to shelter when a warning is issued. Communicate this plan with any children in the house, and make sure to account for your pets in emergency plans. Pet owners should block off spaces under furniture that cats and small dogs may run under rather than toward safety.
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