Fierce storms could bring strong tornadoes, hail, and damaging winds to several states in the Deep South on Tuesday, weather forecasters say.
The 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 Tuesday.
"There is the potential for not only a severe weather outbreak, but also a number of tornadoes from Louisiana to western Georgia and the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday," according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Henry Margusity.
Forecasters in Alabama and Georgia have issued flash flood watches ahead of the storm system, which is expected to drop 1 to 2 inches of rain, with higher amounts possible in some areas.
The National Weather Service warns that the rain could cause roads, streams, and low-lying areas to flood due to the saturated soil. Some of the heaviest rain, up to 3 inches, is expected in Metro Atlanta, and parts of north Georgia mountains. The warnings, which covered large parts of both states, were expected to be in effect through Wednesday afternoon.
In Texas, a line of thunderstorms moving across the state is expected to bring severe weather to the Deep South, with forecasters warning of damage likely to result from the storm.
Heavy storms with large hail and damaging winds are expected to hit the New Orleans area from mid afternoon Tuesday through early evening. Several schools across the state are cancelling classes ahead of the storm, The Acadiana Advocate reports.
The National Weather Service predicts heavy showers and thunderstorms across the Southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley. School districts around the Hattiesburg area in Mississippi are monitoring the severe weather, with several county schools expected to close at noon.
Other cities in the severe weather threat zone include: Houston; New Orleans, and Lake Charles, La.; Atlanta, Ga.; Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.; and Richmond, Va., according to Accuweather.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.