Tornadoes confirmed in Texas, Mississippi, damage from another suspected in Louisiana

Over 95 million people are under the risk for severe storms across the southern United States. Strong, long-track tornadoes, widespread damaging winds, and large hail are all possible.

Posted: Apr 12, 2020 6:40 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2020 6:40 PM

More than 95 million people in almost 20 states in the South and East could see severe weather on Easter Sunday and Monday, including heavy rain, hail and tornadoes.

At least one tornado was confirmed early Sunday in central Texas, with another Sunday afternoon in southern Mississippi, the National Weather Service reported.

The confirmation prompted the weather service to issue its highest level of tornado alert, a tornado emergency, for parts of Covington and Jefferson Davis counties at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. ET). The weather service's Storm Prediction Center said confidence was high that the area was seeing a "strong to intense" tornado with winds of 115-165 mph.

The mayor of Monroe, Louisiana, said his town was damaged by suspected tornadoes Sunday and there have been more than a dozen tornado reports across eastern Texas, northern Louisiana and southern Mississippi.

Tornado watches have been issued across areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, with storms expected to intensify throughout the day.

"It is a dangerous day in Mississippi," Gov. Tate Reeves tweeted. "Please take today's severe storms very seriously. The NWS just issued a solemn, rare warning: a 'PDS' (Particularly Dangerous Situation) tornado watch for north central MS until 8pm. Please take precautions to keep your family safe. We are working and watching closely. Stay safe."

The threat from the storms coincided with the dangers from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Officials in Mississippi said most county safe rooms were equipped with hand sanitizer and advised residents to still wear masks in the rooms.

"Social distance as best as possible while inside the safe room," said Malary White, a spokeswoman with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency ahead of Sunday night's expected severe weather, suspending coronavirus orders where life could be endangered.

"Shelters and community safe rooms should remain open and accessible to all individuals seeking refuge from this severe weather, while implementing reasonable practices and procedures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among those seeking shelter," she said.

Tornadoes touch down in Texas and Louisiana

The Texas tornado early Sunday was confirmed south of Marble Falls, about 50 miles east of Austin, the weather service said. It appeared to weaken as it moved northward.

The National Weather Service office in Shreveport, Louisiana, issued a tornado emergency alert for Monroe.

Mayor Jamie Mayo said there was suspected tornado damage in various parts of Monroe, a city in north-central Louisiana of about 50,000 people, according to a post on the city's Instagram page.

The city posted photos showing downed power lines and significant damage to an airport building. "PLEASE AVOID THE AREA as emergency crews do their jobs," the post read.

Alfonzo Galvan, a journalism student, recorded video of one Monroe neighborhood with debris in the street and several homes with significant damage. He told CNN his family was safe and didn't receive any damage. He lives about 1.5 miles away from the area in the video.

"I got there after the tornado went through the area, but it was just a bunch of people surveying the damage to their homes and looking for their friends and loved ones making sure they were OK," Galvan said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to stay home.

"Even though the morning storms have left the state, many other dangerous systems remain across Louisiana. Please stay at home, follow the orders of local officials and tune in to your local weather person for updates," Edwards said on Twitter.

"The images and reports of major tornado damage in the Monroe area are heartbreaking, and my prayers are with the people there. We are in contact with local officials in the area to provide support. I hope all of Louisiana is on high alert right now," Edward said in a separate tweet.

About 22,000 customers lost power in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas around 11:45 a.m. ET, the Southwestern Electric Power Company said.

Emergency sirens rang to alert residents of a potential tornado in Tyler, Texas, on Sunday morning, Rita Foxx tweeted.

"Well today started out interesting. Got woke up by the city's emergency sirens going off because of a tornado. Yes we took shelter immediately and it's since passed. Just an interesting way to start the day," she wrote.

Storm system hit Texas on Saturday

The large storm system that brought severe weather to areas of Texas on Saturday was expected to shift eastward, marring the holiday for many in the Southeast.

Severe weather went through San Angelo, Texas, on Saturday, causing the roof of a shed to fly off.

Track the storms with the CNN storm tracker >>>

Strong, long-track tornadoes were forecast for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia along with strong winds and hail the size of tennis balls or larger.

"Widespread damaging winds are also in the forecast for much of the Southern states," CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said. "Winds this strong have the potential to cause similar damage to some tornadoes."

"These storms are typically warned as severe thunderstorm warnings and not necessarily tornado warnings, which is why it is important to heed all warnings issued by the National Weather Service offices," Brink said.

Get your local forecast for the weekend >>>

Flash flooding is expected in some states in the mid-South, including Tennessee, North Carolina and parts of northern Georgia and Alabama, where rainfall totals could reach up to 8 inches.

Most other areas will receive 3 to 6 inches.

A second wave of severe storms

Meteorologists warn that after a storm passes, residents shouldn't let their guards down.

"For Georgia, we're expecting two possible waves of activity: The first will be in the afternoon on Sunday as a warm front moves through the area," said Kyle Thiem, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Atlanta. "The second wave of storms will likely come through overnight as the main system moves eastward."

By Monday, the system will focus on the East Coast. There will still be a threat of tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds, and hail.

To stay abreast of dangerous conditions, officials advise residents to have multiple methods of receiving severe weather alerts, including weather radio and smartphone apps. For apps, make sure they're not on "do not disturb" or "silent" mode.

Four tornado safety tips that could save your life >>>

If a tornado touches down, sirens will likely sound. However, they're not intended to wake people up; they're meant to alert people who are outdoors that they need to go inside as quickly as possible.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 818652

Reported Deaths: 15378
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147091924
Mobile724971336
Madison52231697
Shelby37575349
Baldwin37224549
Tuscaloosa35073612
Montgomery34092739
Lee23519246
Calhoun22221482
Morgan20910378
Etowah19816498
Marshall18338303
Houston17360412
St. Clair16034339
Cullman15406293
Limestone15328199
Elmore15186286
Lauderdale14270295
Talladega13827281
DeKalb12637261
Walker11180370
Blount10179176
Autauga9967148
Jackson9860183
Coffee9205191
Dale8884185
Colbert8840201
Tallapoosa7079198
Escambia6766132
Covington6706183
Chilton6633161
Russell635259
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion4995126
Dallas4949200
Pike4791105
Clarke475484
Geneva4568127
Winston4507103
Lawrence4309117
Bibb424686
Barbour357576
Marengo337890
Monroe331463
Randolph329864
Butler325896
Pickens315682
Henry311966
Hale311188
Cherokee302360
Fayette292379
Washington251351
Cleburne247460
Crenshaw244875
Clay243068
Macon234163
Lamar223347
Conecuh185953
Coosa180040
Lowndes174764
Wilcox168739
Bullock151644
Perry138340
Sumter132938
Greene126644
Choctaw88227
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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