An EF-3 tornado struck Saturday in Franklin, Texas, injuring at least a dozen people and damaging at least 20 structures in East Texas, officials said. Mobile homes were damaged, cars were turned over and power lines were cut, reports KWTX, a CBS Waco affiliate.
About 4,000 people in Franklin have no power, officials said.
Severe weather hit Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi on Saturday. The death of two children was confirmed after the fall of a tree on a car during a storm in Angelina County, South Texas, the sheriff's office announced. And three people were injured at Ratcliff in Houston County (located 160 km north of the city of Houston) when a tornado struck.
Jeff Berardelli, a meteorologist working for CBSN, previously announced that the threat of tornaodes was four on a scale of one to five – the kind of day we see in the United States only a handful of times a year.
The main threat is eastern Texas, Louisiana, southern Arkansas and central Mississippi. In this area, and extending a few hundred kilometers in all directions, long-trajectory tornadoes are particularly threatened.
The parameters used by meteorologists to diagnose the severity of thunderstorms are calculated according to the instability of the air due to heat and humidity, associated with the strength of the winds. Saturday's numbers, particularly for what is known as the "important tornado parameter," are about as high as they are in areas near Louisiana.
An upper-air storm system, fed by strong jet-stream currents at altitude, combines forces with hot, humid air coming out of the Gulf of Mexico to the north. The combination will be enhanced by any heating due to sun breaks between thunderstorms. As mentioned, the greatest threat is tornadoes, but heavy hail, frequent lightning, flash floods, and straight wind gusts are likely.
The worst storm will occur Saturday afternoon over eastern Texas and will head to Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. On Saturday night, this threat is set in Tennessee and Alabama, where storms can still produce strong tornadoes.
Tornadoes are the most dangerous at night because people often sleep in the face of threats. In addition, you can not see a tornado coming. Nocturnal tornadoes are 2.5 times more likely to kill. Make sure your phone is turned on and ready to receive the latest warnings. Have a plan in place for the safety of your family.
On Sunday, the storm system will expand and move to the east. The area threatened by thunderstorms will be much wider from northern Florida to Ohio and east to Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North and South Carolina. Strong winds, heavy hail and some tornadoes are possible. Overall, the threat will be slightly less severe than Saturday's, but should nevertheless be considered significant.
Traditionally, "Tornado Alley" has been centered on lowerland states. And although this region still has the highest concentration of tornadoes, the area has moved eastward over the past two decades. The largest recent increase in tornadoes has been recorded in the Great South, in an area now called "Dixie Alley", in the Tennessee Valley.
In 2018, research confirmed that this change was due in part to the warming of the Gulf of Mexico and climate change related to climate change and potentially natural climate cycles. This is important because the Great South is more vulnerable to bad weather and high population density, to structures that are often weak and to increased probability of storms occurring during the night.