The National Weather Service retweeted a video of the tornado in eastern New Orleans visible in the dark sky.
The tornado appeared to start in a New Orleans suburb and then move east along the Mississippi River in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Wing and parts of St. Louis Parish. Bernard before moving northeast.
Guy McGinnis, President of St. Search-and-rescue teams went through homes searching for people and responded to at least two calls from people who said they had been trapped in their homes in their bathrooms.
“No serious injuries have been reported so far,” McGinnis said. “It will be a big night.”
It was not immediately clear if anyone was injured. While the metropolitan area is often hit by severe weather and heavy rainfall, it is rare for a tornado to move through the city.
Strong winds uprooted trees in Ritzland, Mississippi, as a possible tornado swept through Jackson County on Tuesday afternoon, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or severe damage to buildings. Police on campus at Mississippi State University in Starkville shared a photo of a large hardwood tree across the street.
Many schools closed early or canceled after-school activities Tuesday in Louisiana and Mississippi to allow students to return home before the weather worsened. The shelters were opened for the residents who needed a place to stay while the storms passed.
High water was a threat to motorists early Tuesday in Louisiana on several roads, including a section of Interstate 20 and several state highways after overnight rainfall, authorities said. Deputies in Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport, rescued three drivers from high water overnight, the sheriff’s office said on Twitter before dawn.
Thunderstorms were expected to intensify throughout the day as temperatures soared, increasing the risk of tornadoes, hail and strong winds. Meteorologists forecast strong tornadoes and catastrophic winds, with hurricanes of 75 mph (120 km / h) or greater in much of Mississippi, southern and eastern Louisiana, and western Alabama. Louisiana Baton Rouge and Mississippi Jackson were among the cities at risk of bad weather.
The system rained heavily, knocked down trees and triggered multiple tornado warnings as it moved to Alabama on Tuesday afternoon. The roofs of several homes were damaged in Toxey, Alabama, after a storm preceded by tornado warnings swept through the area, the National Weather Service said on Twitter.
Louisiana federal and state authorities have reminded thousands of hurricane survivors living in government-provided mobile homes and yacht trailers to have an evacuation plan because construction may not be up to date. More than 8,000 households live in such makeshift neighborhoods, officials said.
In Texas, several tornadoes were reported Monday along Interstate 35, particularly in the suburbs of Austin Round Rock and Elgin, as well as in northern and eastern Texas and southern Oklahoma.
In Elgin, broken trees lined the countryside and pieces of metal – uprooted by strong winds – hung from the branches. Residents were careful to avoid damaged power lines as they worked to clear debris from broken roofs, crumbling walls and damaged cars.
JD Harkins, 59, said he saw two tornadoes passing by his home in Elgin.
“There was a barn there,” Harkins said, pointing to an empty plot of land owned by his uncle covered in scattered debris. He said the building was empty when the first tornado struck on Monday and that his family was grateful no one was injured.
“It was spotless, well-defined,” Harkins said. “And then one went up and another went down.”
The tornadoes came one day with wild weather in Texas – fires burned in the west and a blizzard warning was issued for the Texas Panhandle, where up to 9 inches (23 cm) of snow fell.
“There is absolutely nothing unusual about what we saw yesterday and what we are seeing today,” said Victor Jensini, a professor of meteorology at the University of Northern Illinois who studies storms. It is the time of year when tornadoes and thunderstorms are expected and there are usually more over the years with a La Nina, a natural cooling of parts of the Pacific that changes the weather around the globe, he said.
The biggest concern remains the tornadoes that hit at night, Jensini said.
At press conferences in Jacksborough and Crockett, two communities severely damaged by tornadoes, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a disaster statement for 16 counties hit hard.
Abbott said 10 people were injured in the storms in Crockett, while more than a dozen were injured elsewhere.
The Grayson County Emergency Management Agency said a 73-year-old woman was killed in the Sergud Source community, about 95 miles north of Dallas, but gave no details.
Homes and businesses in at least a dozen Texas counties were damaged, according to the Storm Forecast Center.
Officials reported damage across Jacksboro, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Fort Worth. Photos posted on social media showed a storm tearing down the wall and roof of parts of Jacksboro High School, including its gym.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” school principal Starla Sanders told WFAA-TV in Dallas.
Bleed reported from Little Rock, Arkansas. Associated Press reporter Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama. Kimberly Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama. Julie Walker in New York. Ken Miller in Oklahoma City; Terry Wallace in Dallas. and Janet McConnaughy in New Orleans contributed to this report.
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