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Forecasters Warn of Tornado Threat Across the South

A potent storm system will drop heavy snow across the Central Plains and into the Midwest, all while delivering severe storms that will be capable of producing significant tornadoes in the South on Tuesday.

A regional tornado outbreak is possible Tuesday afternoon and evening across parts of the lower and mid-Mississippi Valley, forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center wrote on Monday.

“These could be long-lived and intense storms,” National Weather Service forecasters in Memphis wrote. They warned of a possible “significant severe weather event” across the South on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

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The National Weather Service assigns a level from one to five to define the risk that storms like this are capable of producing severe weather. The higher the risk level the more likely that storms capable of producing damaging winds, hail or tornadoes will occur, according to forecasters with the prediction center.

Over 30 million people live in the area considered to be at some risk from these storms, with nearly two million of them in the area most likely to see tornadoes on Tuesday. Major cities like Memphis and Jackson, Miss., are in an enhanced risk, at level three out of five, for these storms.

“The hazards associated with these thunderstorms are frequent lightning, severe thunderstorm wind gusts, hail and a few tornadoes,” forecasters with the Weather Prediction Center said.

The corridor that is the most at risk stretches “from far northeast Louisiana northeastward across northwest Mississippi,” the Storm Prediction Center forecasters wrote on Monday. “Significant tornadoes” will be possible in those areas, they said.

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A few factors could limit the severity of the storms on Tuesday, but more indicators are pointing to the likelihood of a severe event, the forecasters in Memphis said.

Long-track tornadoes — ones that remain on the ground for a significant amount of time, traveling miles and sometimes tearing across an entire state — “are a serious possibility that should not be underplayed,” the weather office added.

Tornadoes in this region are not unheard-of this time of year. On average, 54 tornadoes are reported in November across the United States. Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida have historically reported the most tornadoes in November.

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