The Weather Channel reports that severe storms tore through the Deep South on Sunday evening, causing a multi-day severe weather outbreak . At least one person was killed in Arkansas, while homes and property were damaged in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Louisiana.
Recent developments have led officials to issue a tornado watch – meaning conditions are suitable for tornadoes to form – for large sections of Arkansas and parts of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Reports by the Storm Prediction Center indicate that nearly 30 million people are under the threat of severe weather.
Earlier, the Little River County, Arkansas, coroner confirmed that an adult male was killed on the outskirts of Ashdown when the storms passed through at around 5:30 a.m. The county sheriff said debris fell on the home where the victim died, leaving a trail of damage some 15 miles long.
In a statement to The Weather Channel, Arkansas Office of Emergency Management spokesman Rick Fahr said that at least two house fires in Northwestern Arkansas were believed to have started as a result of passing lightning on Monday morning. “These fires are in the extreme northwest parts of the state, at least 150 miles from where the possible tornado was,” Fahr noted.
Power outages were abundant in Northern Texas early Monday morning with electric company Oncor reporting 20,000 outages across the state – 8,000 of those occurring in Dallas.
In Oklahoma, a mobile home was destroyed and homes were left damaged in Cotton, Jackson, and Stephens counties due to winds as high as 80 mph, according to Storm Prediction Center reports.
Further down south in Louisiana, a gas leak forced a high school evacuation, while there were also scattered reports of downed trees defacing businesses and homes.
Severe weather is expected to push throughout Monday evening. Conditions will remain dangerous while the wave of storms travel east with Memphis expecting the worst of it.
“The thing we can expect is 60- to 70-mph winds, a lot of lightning and heavy rain as well,” warned Mike Bettes, meteorologist for The Weather Channel, from North Little Rock. “Be ready – make sure that your cellphone is charged up, make sure you have some flashlights ready to go and be prepared to go hours, if not maybe a day or two, without power.”