Tennis ball-size hail forecast as powerful storms and violent tornadoes threaten South

The worst of the severe weather will likely stretch from parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley into Alabama, with several rounds of storms possible for parts of Mississippi and Alabama from Wednesday afternoon and into the night, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
The center is warning of “high risk” for severe weather — a category level that’s not taken lightly and used on average only once or twice per year. There were no “high risk” days in 2020. The last one was in May 2019.

About 11 million Americans in that region are at a higher risk for long-track tornadoes Wednesday, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, warned that “strong to violent tornadoes are expected.” Some areas are at a high risk of violent long-track tornadoes, damaging winds of over 80 mph as well as tennis ball-sized hail, the service said.

Long-track tornadoes are the ones that consistently remain on the ground for an extended period of time, unlike a typical one that could be on the ground for just minutes.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency warned the storms could be a “dangerous and life-threatening event.”
In response to the forecast, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency, saying in a statement she did so “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Projections are showing that this will likely be a widespread event, with some of the most severe weather anticipated late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning,” Ivey said in a statement.

“Please make preparations now in the event your area is impacted in some way. I will continue keeping a close eye on the system and encourage every Alabamian to do the same,” the governor added.

Other officials also urged residents of the state to prepare Tuesday.

“Ensure you have multiple ways to receive warnings,” the weather service in Mobile wrote on Twitter. “Also have a plan on a safe place to go should a warning be issued. Please, do NOT focus on the exact risk level. Everybody in the region needs to be prepared for significant severe weather!”

CNN’s Dave Alsup, Jackson Dill and Jennifer Gray contributed to this report.

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