Over 30 million people in the southern parts of the United States were under a variety of severe weather warnings this week, from extreme heat, thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes.

Here are the areas that can expect severe weather this week, and how anyone can prepare for severe weather conditions, regardless of where they live.

Tornadoes: Parts of Alabama and Georgia were under tornado watches on Wednesday afternoon, per the National Weather Service, with two tornadoes and damage already reported in areas of Alabama, according to Accuweather.

The bull’s-eye is expected to be from Jackson, Mississippi, to Montgomery, Alabama, to Albany, Georgia, ABC reported, with gusts of wind that could be up to 80 mph.

The tornado watch is expected to extend in both states through Wednesday, a meteorologist told BBC.

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Severe thunderstorms: Fox Weather stated that areas in Louisiana, southeast Arkansas and central Mississippi are under severe thunderstorm warnings and could expect wind gusts of up to 90 mph, followed by a risk of flash flooding.

The high wind speeds could also be accompanied by “very large and dangerous hail,” BBC reported.

Extreme heat: Texas is bracing for near-record heat this week, per the National Weather Service, with the hottest days expected to come on Thursday and Friday reaching the triple digits. ABC reported that temperatures could heat up to 114 degrees in Corpus Christi.

Not only is the heat rising, but so is power usage, according to Reuters. On Tuesday the Texas state power grid operator reported that power usage is already on track to break records this summer, however, they said that they have “enough resources to meet demand.”

How to prepare for severe weather this summer

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s summer 2023 weather predictions, much of the country is predicted to have a hotter-than-average summer. The South and parts of the U.S. is expected to see more precipitation, and an 80% chance of an El Niño before the end of July, which has the potential to strengthen hurricane season. According to Deseret News, experts have also predicted that 2023 may be a “bad tornado year” in the U.S.

With a range of severe weather predicted for the U.S. this summer, here’s how anyone can be prepared for bad weather.

How to prepare for a tornado: According to the Red Cross, tornado preparedness can start with knowing the difference between a tornado WATCH and a tornado WARNING.

A tornado watch means that tornadoes are “possible in and near your area.” This is more of a call to be aware of the tornado and be prepared to take shelter and further action if needed. A tornado warning means that action is imminent, meaning that “a tornado is near. There is danger. Move to (a) safe location right away,” the Red Cross continued. Tornado watches and warnings are issued wherever the weather is reported.

If someone lives in an area where tornadoes are common, they should know the signs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that some of the warnings of a tornado are:

  • A rotating, funnel-shaped cloud.
  • An approaching cloud of debris.
  • A dark or green-colored sky.
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud.
  • Large hail.
  • A loud roar that “sounds like a freight train.”

If any of these signs are present, take cover immediately. During a tornado, the safest places can be found in storm cellars, basements or in rooms with no windows on the lowest floor, the CDC added, however, no place is completely safe from a tornado.

Preparation should also take place, even before bad weather is present. The Red Cross recommends making a tornado plan for you and the people you live with so that everyone knows what to do and where to go in a presence of a tornado. They also recommend putting together an emergency kit full of necessities in case it is needed.

How to prepare for extreme heat: Previous Deseret News reporting stated that people can prepare for extreme heat by staying hydrated, avoiding outdoor activity, taking frequent breaks in cool places, and wearing light clothing.

Ready.gov says that some ways people can prepare for extreme heat is by knowing the signs of heat illness, preparing their home by ensuring their cooling systems are working before the summer season, identifying places where cool air can be found. During extreme heat, people can take cool showers and baths, and avoid using the oven.

How to prepare for flash flooding: Just like tornadoes, there is a similar difference between a flood WATCH and a flood WARNING. If a flood warning is in place, immediate action is required. The Red Cross states that everyone should learn about the kind of flooding that is likely in their area, and to designate a nearby place of high ground to go to during a flood. Floods can come fast, so it’s important to be prepared beforehand with an emergency kit in an easily accessible spot. Stay in tune with local weather broadcasts to know which areas are at-risk and what to do in the presence of a flood.

How to prepare for hurricanes: Just like any severe weather phenomenon, it’s important to prepare for hurricanes ahead of time. The Deseret News reported that it’s important to prepare for power outages, and how to care for the elderly, people with disabilities, children, and pets. The National Weather Service says that people who live or visit areas where hurricanes are common should be aware of their local evacuation areas, and to make an emergency plan and emergency kit ahead of time.

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During a hurricane, individuals should cover all of their home’s windows, and listen to local authorities for further directions and evacuation information. The NWS says that during the eye of a storm, a calm period will take place. Do not go outdoors during this period, and listen to local weather to ensure that the storm is finished before leaving your home.

General preparedness advice: In general, everyone should be aware of the severe weather that can happen where they live, and should make efforts to prepare for these events beforehand. Preparing an emergency kit ahead of time is another way to ensure that everyone has their necessities in the case of an emergency.

FEMA states that the core of an emergency preparedness kit is several days of food and water for everyone who lives in a household, including pets. Other helpful items for an emergency kit, according to FEMA include:

  • Flashlight.
  • Whistle.
  • Dust masks.
  • Can opener.
  • Battery-powered or hand cranked radio.
  • Batteries.
  • Activities to keep children entertained.
  • First aid kit.
  • Basic tools.

The Red Cross details other items that can be included in an emergency kit:

  • Medications.
  • Sanitation and hygiene products.
  • Cellphones and chargers.
  • Cash.
  • Emergency blankets.
  • Maps.
  • Matches.
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