More than 20 million people from East Texas to the Southeast face the risk of severe storms starting Monday afternoon, with some areas bracing for the possibility of tornadoes or hail, according to meteorologists.
“Devastating winds and several tornadoes, some of which may be strong, will be the main risks,” the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center said early Monday. The center indicated the possibility of damaging winds and large hailstones falling.
Initial snow reports show the storm system moving south after blowing across the Rocky Mountains over the weekend, dumping nearly a foot of heavy mountain snow in several parts of Utah, Nevada and Colorado.
Severe thunderstorms are likely to move across East Texas Monday afternoon before moving through the lower Mississippi Valley toward Alabama overnight, the storm center said.
An enhanced risk level for severe storms, or Level 3 out of 5, has been issued for parts of northern Louisiana and central Mississippi, including Jackson, Mississippi, and Alexandria, Louisiana, the center said.
Less severe threat levels – slight and marginal risks – have been issued from Texas to Alabama and Arkansas, including Houston and Little Rock, Arkansas.
The storms may bring a brief respite to drought-stricken Louisiana and Mississippi, which could see up to 2 inches of rain on Monday, and up to 3 inches in some areas, according to the Weather Prediction Center.
Louisiana is experiencing its worst drought on record — one that has fueled unprecedented wildfires and contributed to catastrophic saltwater intrusion into the Mississippi River. Exceptional drought – the most extreme category according to the US Drought Monitor – covers nearly three-quarters of the state, according to data released last week. In neighboring Mississippi, exceptional drought has spread to more than half of the state.
Several western states, including Utah, Nevada and Colorado, saw heavy snowfall over the weekend, but all winter weather warnings for the region will be lifted by the end of Monday.
Parts of Utah saw a foot or more of snow, followed by some cities in Nevada.
Below are some of the latest preliminary snowfall figures reported by the National Meteorological Directorate:
Alta and Collins, Utah Area: 13 inches
Snowbird, Utah: 12 inches
Bull Canyon, Nevada: 11 inches
Green Mountain, Nevada: 11 inches
Mount Rose Ski Base, Nevada: 10 inches
Crested Butte Mountain, Colorado: 7 inches
Mammoth Mountain Ski Base, California: 7 inches
Winter storm warnings remain in place for parts of Utah through early Monday morning, when an additional 2-4 inches of snow is possible, with isolated totals approaching 6 inches. Winter weather advisories will be in effect for parts of Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona through early Monday, when an additional 1 to 4 inches of snow is possible.
Lower elevations were still warm enough to receive rain, with storm totals of 1 to 3 inches and isolated totals exceeding 3 inches reported.
High winds also swept through the region, with a 144 mph gust reported in Mammoth, California, which has an elevation of about 10,000 feet.
More than 15 million people in parts of the West were under high wind warnings on Monday morning. Those under high wind warnings may see gusts up to 80 mph. Those under wind warnings could see gusts up to 65 mph.