Midwest, South brace for wild weekend weather; N.C. cleans up
(CNN) — A strong storm system could bring more severe weather — including tornadoes, damaging winds and hail — to much of the country this weekend.
As the storm moves over the Rockies toward the Plains, the weather is expected to linger through at least Tuesday.
According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, which monitors severe weather across the United States, this storm poses a serious risk of tornadoes across parts of the country, with southern Missouri, Arkansas, northeast Texas, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi and western Tennessee having the greatest risk of violent tornadoes.
The SPC said it may upgrade Sunday’s threat level to “high risk.” This would be the first “high risk” threat this year — a warning that is typically issued only a few times a year.
According to the SPC, this year has been one of the quietest tornado seasons in U.S. history, and the country has set a record for going the longest into a new year without a tornado fatality.
CNN meteorologist Matt Daniels predicts a slight risk of severe storms Saturday evening from central Texas into southeast South Dakota. This may include damaging winds and large hail, but does not rule out a few tornadoes.
Sunday, the moderate risk of storms expands to include the area from Houston north to Des Moines, Iowa. Strong tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail are possible in the afternoon and evening.
Monday, the severe weather advances farther east into northeast Louisiana, Mississippi, northwest Alabama and western Tennessee. There is also a slight risk of storms stretching into the Midwest, north Georgia and western South Carolina and North Carolina. These storms could produce damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes (some could be strong) throughout the day.
All residents in affected areas are urged to monitor weather reports and take appropriate safety precautions.
Severe weather brought a round of tornadoes and damaging winds to North Carolina on Friday evening, according to officials. The National Weather Service confirmed multiple tornado touchdowns in the area from Chicod to Beaufort County. They are still investigating, but say they appear to be of at least an EF-2 intensity. An official report will be released later Saturday.
There have been no fatalities reported, but several people are reported injured — at least one critically — according to a Pasquotank County Emergency Management spokesperson.
Tornado cleanup is now underway in several counties. The North Carolina Office of Emergency Management and local officials report that several homes and businesses sustained damage in the storm.
John Pack, spokesman for the Beaufort County Emergency Management, estimated more than 200 homes in his county sustained major damage, and 2,500 homes were without power. He told CNN the National Weather Service, county volunteer fire crews and more than 100 electrical crews are working to assist residents.
In nearby Perquimans County, the story was similar.
A spokesman for that county’s emergency management agency, Tom Ponte, told CNN a preliminary assessment showed the storm damaged 38 homes and left approximately 1,770 residents without power. According to Ponte, the county is opening a shelter for residents displaced by the storm and roads are being cleared by the county fire department, with assistance from the North Carolina Department of Forestry.
By Kisa Mlela Santiago
CNN’s Ralph Ellis, Dave Hennen, Suzanne Presto, John Branch and Stephen Daniel contributed to this story.