Christmas is a time for laughter, a time for cheer, and this year, a time to be cautious about your Christmas decorations. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and elsewhere due to an unexpected flurry of tornados in the South and Midwest, which have already claimed four lives. Authorities are warning residents in the affected areas to keep an eye on their Christmas decorations, as they could get whipped up, tossed around, and turned into dangerous projectiles if hit by a tornado. It's a bit of a touchy subject, though, simply because plenty of people have put loads of time and effort into decorating their house for the holidays.
"If you go through these neighborhoods, there are a lot of people very proud of what they've put out and they've got stuff everywhere - all these ornaments and deer and everything else," the director of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency in Jackson, Tennessee told The Associated Press. "They're not manufactured to withstand that kind of wind speed, so they become almost like little missiles."
The prospect of a plastic deer becoming a "little missile" may sound charming in theory, but of course, it isn't. The tornados themselves have been quite severe, and while Christmas decorations are lovely, it's always better to err on the side of not getting hit in the head with a giant plastic snowman. The prospect of seeing one's Christmas decorations destroyed by a tornado isn't just theoretical: A resident of Battle Ground, Washington suffered that exact same fate earlier in the month, when a tornado stormed through her yard and "broke the Santas," in her words.
The tornados first appeared on Wednesday, and over the course of the day, the NWS issued tornado warnings in over twelve states. Specifically, it sent out what's called a "particularly dangerous situation" advisory; that refers to circumstances in which "long-lived intense tornados are likely," and the NWS hasn't issued one in over a year and a half. That said, the agency did say that it expected the tornados to calm down by Thursday, at which point there would only be a "marginal" risk of severe weather.
As of Wednesday night, tornado watches were still active in five states: Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The NWS also issued flood watches for parts of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Hopefully, all of this will die down before Christmas. Until then, if you live in one of the affected states, you might want to take Rudolph indoor for a few days.