The National Weather Service has issued a "particularly dangerous situation" (PDS) tornado watch for Ohio Valley and multiple states in the South.
The issue has gone out for parts of eastern Arkansas, northwest Mississippi, northeast Louisiana and western Tennessee. The PDS watch is in effect until 8 p.m CST, with additional watches issued until 11 p.m. CST. Though a PDS is rare — there are only an average of 24 issued per year — the National Weather Service cautions that these types of watches ought to be taken extremely seriously. A PDS is called only when long-lasting, intense tornadoes are likely, some of which have paths known to span over a 20-mile radius.
The NWS has also adjusted their Tornado Conditions Index (TOR:CON), which estimates the risk of a tornado in any given area during the day. Based on a scale from one to 10, the NWS has raised their TOR:CON levels to an eight out of 10 for parts of west Tennessee, northern Mississippi and northern Alabama. This indicates that there is an 80 percent chance of a tornado within 50 miles of each of these areas. The Gulf Coast through to the Ohio Valley could also see tornadoes and damaging winds, with their TOR:CON rate ranging from a five to seven on the scale.
Four of the ten top trends on Twitter right now are related to the storm — these include an apt warning of "be careful," "Mississippi," "National Weather Service," and of course, "#tornado." Users have taken to the site to share their sightings of the storm:
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and NWS have recommended guidelines for staying safe in this situation. They urge those in the affected areas to take shelter immediately in a sturdy building, particularly one with a basement if possible. If there is no form of underground shelter, they suggest moving into a hallway or enclosed space with no windows.
If caught outside or in a mobile home, the weather services suggest walking or driving to a well-grounded building. If that isn't possible, take shelter in a car with a seat belt on and your head covered, or move below road-level and lie in that area.
Tornadoes will also develop with little warning. NWS suggests remaining alert by watching for signs, such as a dark, green-tinted sky, large hail, and a loud roar, often described as similar to that of a freight train.
We wish all of those living in the affected areas a safe evening!