The tornado threat is moving east, putting nearly 100 million people from the Great Lakes to the central Gulf Coast under threat from severe storms. Tornadoes from this system injured 23 people Tuesday in Texas.
As the system spreads across the country, it brings a trio of threats: damaging winds, strong tornadoes and large hail.
The most significant threats are expected across Memphis; Evansville, Indiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Owensboro, Kentucky – where more than 5 million people are at moderate risk – Level 4 out of 5 – from severe weather.
These cities are particularly vulnerable to hurricane-force wind gusts (74 mph and above), tornadoes (some EF-3 and above), as well as large hail.
Overall, severe thunderstorms could impact much of the lower and middle Mississippi Valley in the Midwest, as well as the lower Ohio Valley, the Storm Prediction Center said.
Elsewhere, parts of Montana, North Dakota and northern Minnesota could see heavy snowfall Wednesday through Thursday.
“Movement will remain difficult if not impossible, and widespread power outages and damage to trees are expected,” he warns, adding that there could be significant impacts on livestock, such as cattle, which are in period. of calving.
The snow is expected to end by Friday morning, followed by extremely cold temperatures.
“Overnight lows will fall in the teens of western North Dakota, and with strong winds, wind chills will be in the above zero figures, cold enough for mid-April,” the weather services office said. of Bismarck.
High temperatures could reach the 20s on Friday, about 30 degrees below normal. The region could break records for low maximum temperatures.
Extremely dry air behind the cold front, in addition to strong westerly winds and very dry fuels, will lead to active fire weather on Wednesday, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
The storm leaves destruction in its wake
At least 23 people were injured on Tuesday after tornadoes touched down in Bell County, central Texas, officials said. Twelve of them were hospitalized, Bell County Judge David Blackburn said, adding he believed everyone was accounted for.
Two confirmed tornadoes touched down in Bell County, the Storm Prediction Center said.
Callers to 911 on Tuesday reported a tornado around 5:40 p.m. CT (6:40 p.m. ET), Blackburn said. A tornado crossed the county line from neighboring Williamson County, traveling 7 miles on the ground, he added.
Damage ranged from downed power lines and trees to razed buildings reduced to rubble in many areas, Blackburn said.
“I think it came on pretty quickly,” Blackburn said. “The extent of the damage is significant. At least for now, not having a death report is in itself incredible.”
Tuesday brought a dual-threat storm system that brought at least eight tornadoes mostly to Texas and Iowa, along with heavy snowfall in other states including the Dakotas, Montana and Minnesota.
Parts of the Dakotas and Montana were under blizzard warnings and forecasters warned of dangerous whiteout conditions on the roads.
Heavy snowfall blocked more than 500 miles of Highway 94 between Montana and North Dakota.
In North Dakota, more than a foot of snow was reported in multiple locations, including Grand Forks and Rockford, according to weather service data.
“We have blizzards in April, but one of this intensity is pretty rare,” Jeff Schild, meteorologist with the Bismarck Weather Services office, told CNN on Tuesday. “The last event of note for this level of intensity was April 4-7 in 1997.”
A 4,000-acre wildfire in New Mexico destroyed or damaged 150 structures Tuesday near the town of Ruidoso, while another major wildfire burned about 900 acres near Albuquerque.
CNN’s Dave Alsup, Robert Shackelford, Amy Simonson, Jennifer Gray, Steve Almasy and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.