While much of the nation deals with heavy snow and intense cold, severe weather is in the forecast Wednesday across portions of the Deep South: Large hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes are all possible, meteorologists warned.
States where the severe weather is most likely include Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee; cities in the path of the storms include Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham and Atlanta, AccuWeather said.
The threat will be mainly in the late afternoon into the evening hours, Weather.com meteorologist Ari Sarsalari said.
This latest severe weather threat comes just over two weeks after a devastating tornado outbreak left entire towns in ruins and at least 92 people dead, mostly in Kentucky.
While Wednesday’s storms are expected to remain south of the hardest-hit areas, any rain or wind will be enough to hinder cleanup efforts for a time, AccuWeather said.
Before the severe storms arrive, unseasonably warm air will continue for the southern Plains and Southeast, and more record highs were expected both Tuesday and Wednesday.
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Elsewhere, frigid temperatures continued in the Pacific Northwest and northern Plains and heavy snow fell across the western mountains.
Calling the cold “dangerous and life-threatening,” the National Weather Service said temperatures will fall below minus-20 degrees in parts of Montana and North Dakota, which combined with gusty winds will cause wind chills to plummet as low as 50 degrees below zero in some areas. “Frostbite will occur within minutes on exposed skin,” the Weather Service said.
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Across normally mild western Washington and Oregon, officials and private groups opened emergency spaces for people to find refuge as forecasters said the extreme cold from the arctic blast could last until next weekend.
In Seattle, Kaety West walked a short distance in the snow from the tent where she usually stays to find refuge at a small warming center at an American Legion hall. “I’m not even willing to stay in it right now. It’s just so difficult,” she said of her tent on Monday.
Farther south, more than 9 feet of snow has already fallen in parts of the Sierra Nevada and still more snow and rain are ahead for California this week, Weather.com said. The snow closed key highways, and forecasters warned that travel in the Sierra could be difficult for several days.
Meanwhile, in the Midwest, Chicago picked up its first measurable snow of the winter season Tuesday; 1-3 inches was forecast in parts of the metro area.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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