An outbreak of severe weather – with multiple reports of tornadoes – continued Wednesday across the South, ahead of what promised to be a dangerous evening of violent storms for the region.
A tornado was reported to have caused damage in Abbeville, Alabama, Wednesday morning, emergency management officials said. Tornado damage was also reported in eastern Texas Wednesday afternoon, officials said, including reports of cars being blown off the road in Cass County. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The National Weather Service issued numerous tornado warnings throughout the afternoon, mainly in southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia.
The forecast for the evening includes all modes of severe weather, such as tornadoes, hail, high winds and even the chance of a derecho. A tornado watch was in effect for large portions of Alabama and Georgia.
Meanwhile, a heat wave was building for millions of people across Texas, where temperatures were forecast to soar to near 100 degrees in many spots Wednesday and over the next couple of days.
Severe weather outbreak for South
The predicted outbreak was described as “rare” by Weather.com meteorologist Ari Sarsalari, due to the system’s timing (mid-June) and location (the South). Usually severe weather outbreaks like this one take place earlier in the spring across the region.
Areas from northeast Louisiana to southwest Georgia were most at risk for the severe storms throughout Wednesday afternoon and into the evening, forecasters said.
A derecho was also possible: “There is the potential for a long-lived, high wind and torrential rain thunderstorm event, referred to as a derecho, in the high-risk zone into Wednesday night,” AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. These fast-moving thunderstorm complexes often behave like inland hurricanes and tend to produce damaging winds along a swath of hundreds of miles.
‘Dangerous’ heat in Texas
Summer heat is forecast to soar throughout the Lone Star State into the end of the week and beyond, with only the Texas Panhandle omitted from triple digit high temperatures, the National Weather Service said. When combined with oppressive humidity, particularly across South Texas and the western Gulf Coast, heat indices could reach as high as 120 degrees.
The heat index is a measurement that combines temperature and humidity.
“These temperatures can be very dangerous if spending extended time outdoors or in areas without proper air conditioning,” the weather service warned.
As sweltering summer heat scorches Texas and threatens to strain the state’s electric grid, some energy experts expressed confidence in the network’s ability to handle the increased workload but couldn’t definitively rule out possible power outages.
In addition to Texas, heat warnings were also in effect in portions of Louisiana and south Florida.
BACKGROUND:Is the Texas power grid ready for the summer heat? Here’s what experts predict.
Contributing: The Austin-American Statesman; The Associated Press