People in South, Midwest Urged to Prepare for Dangerous Weather

Conditions are similar to those before last week's deadly Mississippi storm
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2023 10:21 AM CDT
Dangerous Weather Expected in South, Midwest
Debris is strewn about tornado-damaged homes, Sunday, March 26, 2023, in Rolling Fork, Miss.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez,File)

Meteorologists are urging people in parts of the Midwest and southern US to be ready Friday for dangerous weather including tornadoes, saying the conditions are similar to those a week ago that unleashed a devastating twister that killed at least 21 people in Mississippi. An outbreak of severe thunderstorms has the potential to cause hail, damaging wind gusts, and tornadoes that could be strong and move on the ground over long distances, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

The major population centers at greatest risk for storms starting Friday afternoon include Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock and Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the AP reports. But people throughout eastern Iowa, western and northern Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas should also be prepared, says Northern Illinois University meteorology professor and tornado expert Victor Gensini. "There will be lots of thunderstorms ... tornadoes, damaging winds, and large hail,” he said. People in those areas should stock emergency supplies, prepare for power outages, avoid getting stranded in places vulnerable to falling trees or severe hail, and park vehicles in garages if possible, meteorologists said.

Gensini said Friday’s atmospheric setup is similar to the conditions that were present during Mississippi’s deadly storm. The hazardous forecast is a result of strong southerly winds transporting copious amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico north, where they will interact with the strengthening storm system. The bad weather could also extend into Chicago, where forecasters warned of a “relatively rare, significant severe weather threat” that includes powerful winds, tornadoes, and large hail. In Iowa City, the University of Iowa canceled Friday’s watch party for fans who planned to gather for the women’s basketball Final Four game against South Carolina.

(More severe weather stories.)

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