Strong tornadoes, hail and destructive winds possible this week


A multiday severe weather outbreak is expected through the first half of the week, with severe storms capable of strong tornadoes, destructive hail up to the size of a softball and damaging winds in excess of 60 mph — all of which will be possible Monday through Wednesday.

On Sunday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center released a moderate risk for severe thunderstorms (a threat level of 4 on a scale of 5) for Tuesday. The last time a threat level this high was issued that far in advance was ahead of the Easter Sunday outbreak April 12, 2020. That outbreak produced 16 EF3 and EF4 tornadoes.

But before Tuesday’s threat, dangerous storms were expected to first hit parts of Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana on Monday afternoon through Monday night.

About 22 million people are at risk for severe storms Monday across these areas, where hail of 2 inches or larger, tornadoes, a couple of which could be strong, and damaging winds are all possible.

Storms are expected to erupt during the afternoon hours across northern and central Texas, then move east through the overnight hours. Dallas, Waco, Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Shreveport, Louisiana, all need to be on alert.

Meteorologists are especially concerned about Monday’s evening rush hour along the I-35 corridor in Texas when severe thunderstorms could be crossing those corridors.

On Tuesday, through the night, 9 million people are at risk for severe storms for what is forecast to be the most dangerous of the three days with a regional tornado outbreak possible. Storms will be ongoing in the morning and will continue through the day and into the overnight hours.

Several significant tornadoes are possible along with large hail and strong winds. Cities to watch closely include Lake Charles and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi, Tuscaloosa and Mobile, Alabama.

Forecasters were also stressing that nighttime tornadoes are a real threat both Monday and Tuesday night. Nocturnal tornadoes are two and a half times more deadly than their daytime counterparts largely in part to people sleeping and not having a way to get woken up by warnings.

By Wednesday, the storm system is expected to track east, bringing the risk for all severe hazards once again to 25 million people from northern Florida into much of the Southeast and the mid-Atlantic. Cities to watch midweek include Atlanta, Tallahassee, Florida, Charleston, South Carolina and Raleigh, North Carolina.

In addition to the severe thunderstorms, flash flooding is also a concern across the same regions expecting the severe thunderstorms.

As of Monday morning, 13 million people across parts of four states, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, were under a flood watch.

Rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour could amount to locally 6 to 7 inches in some spots. The soil in many areas are already fairly saturated and streams are already running high.

The greatest risk for flash flooding through Monday night is in eastern Texas into northwest Louisiana. The greatest risk Tuesday and Tuesday night is across eastern Louisiana into central Mississippi and Alabama.

Dual hazards of severe weather and flash flooding can be challenging for meteorologists to communicate, and for the public to react to, because simultaneous tornado and flash flood warnings have contradictory recommendations for what to do in the event when one is issued. For tornadoes, that action is sheltering below ground. For flash flooding, that action is moving to higher ground.

Meteorologists encouraged everyone in the path of the storms to review their severe weather plan, stay alert, and listen to meteorologists and officials providing lifesaving information. This includes having a way to get warnings, such as enabling emergency alerts and notifications on smartphone devices, or having a NOAA weather radio.