About 50 million People in 15 states faced the potential of severe weather, which included hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes. While the South is no stranger to severe weather in February, the possibility of severe storms as far north as the Great Lakes was unusual for the time of year.
The Storm Prediction Center issued tornado watches from Texas to the Tennessee Valley, warning of the danger of severe storms but putting a “cap” in place to keep cells from turning severe early in the day. A cap, according to FOX Weather meteorologist Ian Oliver, is a layer of warm air aloft that acts as a lid on the atmosphere, preventing storms from rising vertically.
Storms failed to develop in earnest on Wednesday due to a strong cap that was not broken, according to the FOX Forecast Center.
In Arkansas, an EF-2 tornado was reported
The National Weather Service Office in Little Rock, Arkansas, said a team of meteorologists assessed that an EF-2 tornado ripped across Searcy and Marion counties early Thursday morning. The touchdown caused no injuries, although it did cause a home to be removed from its foundation. The NWS stated that trees had blocked half a dozen roadways, including Highway 65, which had to be closed briefly.
During the strong storms, other sections of the state received hail and wind damage, but no more tornadoes are thought to have touched down in the area.
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Numerous tornadoes have been seen in Mississippi
The Deep South was under Tornado Warning for most of Thursday as two rounds of showers and storms rolled in from the west. Damage to mobile homes, awnings, trees, and power lines has been recorded in various Mississippi communities. The mayor of Ripley, Mississippi, Jon Grisham, stated that the major purpose of public works was to ensure that streets were clear after being cleared by the local power company.
“Our schools let out early today, and we were kind of expecting it to be a little later in the day. It came sooner than we thought. But as far as being prepared and being ready for the emergency, we were,” Grisham added. The mayor had received no reports of storm-related injuries or deaths.
A video shows the weather condition after the tornado
Smithville, Mississippi is a little more than an hour’s journey south and east of Ripley. A person in the state’s east took a video of what seemed to be a massive tornado outside the town. According to the FOX Forecast Center, doppler radar spotted a debris ball, which is a sign that rotation exists in a cell and that a tornado may be on the ground.
Tornadoes and other natural calamities are not uncommon in Smithville. In 2011, an EF-5 tornado destroyed practically everything in its path and affected hundreds of people. Luckily, Thursday’s event did not reach the epic proportions of the 2011 superstorm, and initial damage reports from the region appeared to be minor.
Rising water in Tennessee necessitates evacuation
A daycare in Dover, Tennessee, was forced to close due to the possibility of high water along the Kentucky-Tennessee border. According to the Homestead Child Development Center, children were relocated to higher ground after the water began to rise quickly and a Flash Flood Warning was issued.
Forecast models indicated that 1-2″ of rain might fall quickly, with locally higher amounts likely in storms and places where precipitation could potentially train over the same region.
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A Flood Warning has been issued for almost 2 million people in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Meteorologists cautioned that high runoff might cause rapid rises in rivers, creeks, and streams.
Destruction was also recorded in central Tennessee, where meteorologists will likely seek to determine if the town of Parsons was hit by straight-line winds or a tornado. Many structures were destroyed during the storms, and local utilities reported dozens of power outages.
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