The storm created a dilemma for public safety officials trying to strike a balance between wanting to keep people locked up for the coronavirus pandemic and letting them leave their homes for shelter if conditions worsen .
The American Meteorological Society (AMS), however, was unequivocal in its advice.
“Don’t let the virus stop you from seeking refuge in a tornado,” he said in a statement.
“If a public tornado shelter is your best shelter from the weather, take steps to make sure you follow the CDC [federal] guidelines for physical distance and disease prevention. “
Community shelters, according to the AMS, should be a last resort.
The Louisiana twister landed in the town of Monroe at lunchtime, where officials posted on Twitter images of damage from a number of locations. The buildings and planes at the city’s airport were destroyed and the managers closed the runways to all air traffic.
Damage has been reported Kingston, Louisiana, 120 miles east, while local media said at least two tornadoes hit central Texas.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued tornado alerts and warnings for several southern states, including Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama, as the storm continued to head east.
Severe weather warnings, including flood control measures, were in place for parts of Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, the Carolinas and as north as Tennessee. In total, up to 20 states could see certain effects, warned weather experts
“Stay Safe and Weather Alert – It’s a Dangerous Day in Mississippi”, Tate Reeves, Governor of Mississippi, said in a series of tweets.
“Please take today’s severe storms very seriously. Please take precautions to keep your family safe. We work and monitor closely. Stay safe. “
Meteorologists have said up to 95 million people could be affected by the massive storm on Sunday evening and Monday, with hailstones the size of possible tennis balls in places.
“The serious weather threat currently hanging over the Mississippi will move east into Alabama later this afternoon,” said the NWS storm forecast center in a bulletin released at 2:45 pm ET.
The storm, she said, “should get worse as it travels through Alabama”, causing more tornadoes, winds reaching 70 mph and heavy rain resulting in flooding.
In a live Facebook broadcast on Sunday afternoon, the NWS office in Jackson, Mississippi, told residents in some areas to seek immediate shelter, which confirmed a tornado on the ground in the state. It was not immediately clear whether this damage had caused damage.