It’s rare that a level 5 risk warning for tornadoes is issued, but that’s the case on Thursday for parts of the South, affecting some 50 million residents stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley.
High Risk TornadoWarning Issued from South to Ohio Valley
The risk of tornadoes and damaging thunderstorms stretches from the Gulf Coast all the way into the southern areas of the Ohio Valley on Thursday putting more than 50 million people at risk from severe weather, CNN reported.
The risk extends into the evening which could bring the threat of large, long-tracking tornadoes, large hail, torrential downpours with potential flash flooding, as well as damaging wind gusts that could reach as high as 80 mph, AccuWeather reports.
NWS Weather Alerts
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued the following weather alerts for Thursday.
Flash flood watch: northern Alabama, central and eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, northwestern South Carolina, northern Georgia, northern Alabama.
Flash flood warning: north-central Alabama.
Severe thunderstorm warning: northeastern Alabama, northwestern Georgia, southeastern Tennessee.
Where Is the Highest Risk?
The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center issued a rare Level 5 risk of high weather and tornadoes affecting the Northeast portion of Mississippi, Northwestern Alabama, and south-central Tennessee.
A moderate Level 4 risk extends through central and northern Mississippi, central and northern Alabama, western and central Tennessee, into southern/southwestern Kentucky.
An enhanced Level 3 risk will affect portions of eastern Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle.
What Do the Severe Weather Risk Level Numbers Signify?
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) of the National Weather Service has a system of categorizing and assessing the risk level of severe weather under a five-grade system. Here’s a recap of what the risk level numbers between 3 and 5 signify.
5. High risk
Defined as: Widespread and long-lived destructive storms.
Possibilities: Damaging winds, large hail, and strong tornadoes are typically the main threats. Strong, destructive storms of a long-duration are possible.
Hazards: Catastrophic hail, tornado outbreak, Derecho.
Scope: Widespread, long-lived, destructive storms.
4. Moderate risk
Defined as: Widespread severe storms.
Possibilities: Widespread wind damage, significant hail damage, and several strong tornadoes are the typical main threats.
Hazards: Widespread wind damage, destructive hail, strong tornadoes.
Scope: Widespread severe storms and long-lived intense storms.
3. Enhanced risk
Defined as: Numerous severe storms.
Possibilities: Significant wind damage, large hail, and a few isolated tornadoes are the main threats. Numerous severe storms are possible.
Hazards: Likely wind damage, 1″-2″ hail, several tornadoes.
Scope: Widespread with a few intense storms, more persistent.
Staying Safe in Severe Weather
Severe weather brings a variety of dangers both indoors and outdoors. If you live in an area that frequently has severe weather, it’s important to own a weather radio, either battery-powered or hand-crank, in order to be able to receive weather updates and warnings should the power go out. But you also need to have a cell phone, which can be your lifeline. Make sure to keep all your cellphones fully charged in advance of potential severe weather in case of a power failure.
To get additional information about how to be prepared for severe weather, visit these US government websites for articles on preparedness at: