Through early next week, millions of Americans will find themselves under the risk for severe thunderstorms capable of tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds.
The regions most at risk will be the southern Plains, Southeast and Gulf Coast states which will experience two rounds of severe storms in the coming days.
The first batch of severe weather will affect the Southeast to Mid-Atlantic Friday and Saturday.
On Friday, 21 million people woke up under the risk for severe storms stretching from the Ohio River down to the Gulf Coast. At sunrise, severe storms were already ongoing in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
By midday, severe damage was reported at a mobile home park in Atmore, Alabama. Escambia County Sheriff Heath Jackson said two people were hospitalized and nine trailers were totaled by weather that passed through the area.
One resident was asleep when the storm hit and said he woke up in the woods, Jackson said.
“It looks like a tornado hit it,” Jackson said, although he cautioned that a tornado had not been confirmed.
Another expert said the storm could have been a “straight line wind” event, which features high winds but no cyclone wind pattern like in tornadoes.
On the southern side of Friday’s risk area, damaging winds and tornadoes were expected to be the greatest risk. The possibility of a strong, as well as a potentially long-track tornado, was mentioned by the Storm Prediction Center.
On the northern side of Friday’s risk area, hail the size of a baseball or larger worried forecasters the most.
Cities to watch Friday include Paducah, Kentucky, Nashville, Tennessee, Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, Atlanta, New Orleans and Tallahassee, Florida.
On Saturday, as the storm system shifts east, 12 million people are at risk for severe thunderstorms across two areas.
The first encompasses locations from the southeast and Mid-Atlantic where damaging winds and a few tornadoes will be possible from northern Florida to southeast Virginia.
The second area included parts of the interior northeast, specifically central Pennsylvania to central New York for strong wind gusts.
Cities to watch on Saturday across both areas include Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, Wilmington, Delaware, Norfolk, Virginia, and Binghamton, New York.
Round two of severe thunderstorms will once again affect the southern tier Monday through Wednesday, and this is expected to be the more significant of the two rounds.
It could also be accompanied by a risk for flash flooding.
Meteorologists stressed Friday that while details still need to come into better focus regarding the ingredients for next week’s severe thunderstorms, all hazards including tornadoes, very large hail and damaging winds appear likely at this time.
With such a volatile pattern on the horizon, meteorologists are providing an early heads up to these areas looking ahead to next week. They encouraged that all interests in the path of the storm threat use the weekend to prepare and review all severe weather plans.