Schools close in U.S. South in anticipation of tornadoes, thunderstorms

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 23, 2016 10:28 AM

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A swath of the U.S. South faced warnings on Tuesday of tornadoes and other severe weather as thunderstorms move from southeast Texas along the Gulf Coast, the National Weather Service said.

Southern Louisiana, including New Orleans, was forecast to be hit hard and schools in about a dozen parishes canceled classes or closed for the day.

"There are the right conditions for strong tornadoes today with wind speeds well over 100 miles per hour,” said Alek Krautmann, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New Orleans.

He said smaller tornadoes with winds under 80 or 90 miles per hour also could be dangerous.

"The last place you want to be is outside or in a car on the road," he said. "We’re warning people to stay indoors and be weather conscious."

Storm warnings were issued throughout a southern corridor of the United States, including parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, he said.

By midnight, the severe weather was expected to hit southwestern Georgia and could reach Atlanta and central Georgia before the morning rush hour on Wednesday, said Adam Baker, a meteorologist for the weather service’s Atlanta office.

Flash flood warnings were in effect for Alabama and Georgia through Wednesday afternoon. One to 2 inches of rain were expected, although Atlanta and other isolated areas could see 3 inches or more, Baker said.

"We’re really concerned that this could catch people off guard," he said. "We need people to listen to weather warnings in their area."

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)