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Millions in the South are at hurricane risk as the storm threatens the Midwest

(CNN) — A deadly winter storm in California is now threatening tornadoes in the South and heavy snow, ice and freezing rain in the Midwest.

More than three million people were under a tornado watch for parts of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma as of 10 p.m. Miami time.

And cyclones are not the only danger in the region. The Storm Prediction Center warned of the possibility of hail and gusty winds of 110 km/h “in most areas late into the night”.

Anyone in tornado risk areas should seek safe shelter immediately, said Brad Bryant, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service office in Shreveport, Louisiana.

“If you wait until the warning is issued, it’s too late,” Bryant said Monday. “You need to have a safe haven plan in place before these storms.”

This map shows where the National Weather Service has identified severe weather hazards for thunderstorms, high winds, hail and tornadoes.

Bryant encouraged those who need help — especially those living in mobile homes — to contact local emergency managers or law enforcement to find out what shelter options are available to them.

“We’ve had three rounds of severe weather since mid-November, and we’ve had casualties, mostly in mobile homes,” Bryant said.

From Missouri to the Gulf Coast, more than 30 million people are at risk of severe weather Monday, according to CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen.

More tornadoes and damaging winds are possible for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday as the storm moves east.

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To the north, more than 15 million people from Utah to Wisconsin are under a winter weather warning on Monday.

The same storm system brought record rainfall and deadly flooding to drought-stricken California over the weekend. And another wave of heavy rain this week could increase dangerous flooding.

“The journey is dangerous, impossible”

Faster snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are forecast across the Plains and Midwest from Nebraska to southwestern Minnesota, with totals of more than 12 inches by the end of Tuesday. Snow avalanche may be accompanied by thunder.

“These extreme rates will combine with strong winds to create blizzards and swirling ice, resulting in snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and difficult travel,” the Met Office said.

Significant amounts of ice can cause power outages and treacherous travel conditions.

Freezing rain could produce more than half an inch of snow Monday through Tuesday from northeastern Nebraska to northwestern Iowa to southern Minnesota.

“Travel will become hazardous in many areas tonight (today), although not impossible,” the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls said Monday.

California could see more flooding this week

Storm America

Meanwhile, storms and heavy rain left three vehicles submerged on Dillard Road in Sacramento, California after heavy rains on New Year’s Day. (Credit: Hector Amezcua/AP)

Northern California communities that experienced extensive flooding over the weekend could experience even more rainfall in the coming days.

It’s unclear how far the storm will stave off the drought conditions that have gripped California, which started 2022 as the driest year on record and ended with flooded roads and overflowing rivers.

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“Early midweek storm forecasts call for 2 to 3 inches in the Central Valley,” the weather service office in Sacramento said.

An atmospheric river — a long, narrow stretch that can carry moisture thousands of miles into the atmosphere — sparked a parade of storms over the weekend, bringing record rainfall and prompting water rescues.

A person was found inside a submerged vehicle in Sacramento County and at least two people, including a 72-year-old man, died after it crashed into a fallen tree in a Santa Cruz park, authorities said.

Now, another atmospheric river could bring more rain and more flooding to northern and central California, including the Bay Area, on Wednesday.

The approaching storm “appears to lead to hazardous conditions,” the National Weather Service in San Francisco said.

The public has been advised to avoid driving in standing water.

Flooding in the Casumnus River has forced the closure of Highway 99 south of Elk Grove in Sacramento County, the California Department of Transportation tweeted Sunday. “SR 99 is one of the busiest corridors in the state and is important commercially,” its website said.

In recent days, “dozens and dozens” of people have been rescued, Cosumnes Fire Department Capt. Chris Schamber told CNN affiliate KRA. Aerial images of the station showed cars submerged in water up to the door handles.

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