Latest Updates: Severe Weather Bringing Tornado Threat and Flooding to Gulf Coast


Waves of intense weather were moving east on Wednesday, bringing flash flooding and tornadoes the New Orleans area and other parts of the central Gulf Coast, the National Weather Service said.

Several flash flood warnings were issued early in the day, including one for New Orleans where between one-half and two inches of rain have fallen and one to three inches are possible, forecasters said.

There’s also a substantial risk of tornadoes in the area, and some of those could be strong. The first tornado warnings have been issued for some rural areas, and more were expected through the morning. Forecasters warned that more than seven million people across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama could experience extreme weather through the day.

The weather in the region began to deteriorate before dawn. The Weather Service issued more than a dozen tornado warnings and watches that covered towns from Texas to Mississippi. One of the more significant bulletins was a tornado watch issued for the southeastern portion of Louisiana north to Columbus, Miss., until the early afternoon.

(A tornado warning is an urgent alert issued after a weather forecaster spots a possible tornado on a radar or a trained spotter sees a tornado. A watch means weather conditions are favorable for one to form in an area.)

Flooding began to inundate areas in east Texas early on Wednesday. Schools were closed and roads were shut down on Wednesday through the city of Kirbyville in Jasper County, Tx., in the east of the state. The sheriff’s office said its deputies, local fire departments and emergency authorities were deployed for rescue efforts in the area around the city of more than 2,000.

“We have major flooding throughout the county at the midline with another line of storms coming,” the sheriff’s office said, advising residents not to travel.

The Weather Service also issued a flurry of flash flood warnings, including one for areas surrounding Jackson, Miss., that included nearly 400,000 residents.

The cluster of storms approaching the area could dump up to four inches of rain over a short period from northeast Louisiana to southwest Georgia and the Florida panhandle, forecasters predicted. The storms are also expected to produce hail and high winds through the evening.

“Residents and visitors are advised to have multiple ways to receive warnings and never drive through flooded roadways,” the Weather Service said.

While the bulk of the severe weather was expected to begin in the morning hours and run through the afternoon, parts of Mississippi were already reeling from an overnight storm.

At least one tornado was reported in Raymond, Miss., just west of Jackson, the state capital, according to a local news outlet. Multiple trees and power lines were reported down across neighboring counties.

As of around 9 a.m. local time, more than 150,000 more were without power in Louisiana, according to PowerOutage.Us, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States. More than 30,000 customers were without power in Mississippi, and about 60,000 in Texas.

The National Weather Service office in New Orleans said on social media that storms moving across the city on Wednesday would approach slowly and that some of the main effects would be heavy rain and flash flooding.

In anticipation of the weather, officials closed City Hall and other city buildings Wednesday. Schools, however, remained open.

Farther north, the Weather Service office in Jackson, Miss., warned residents that damaging winds of up to 70 miles per hour would be possible on Wednesday, along with an increased chance of tornadoes, some strong, and hail.

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