Strong storms started rolling across the South on Tuesday night with torrential rain, hail and fierce winds that continued to rage Wednesday killing at least one person, destroying homes, and leaving over 200,000 without power. 

On Wednesday morning, 13 million people were under flood watches from eastern Texas to northern Florida and a ribbon of flash flood warnings extended from southeast Texas, across central Louisiana and into western Mississippi.

As of 2 p.m., over 272,000 customers were without power across the U.S., with over 144,000 out in Louisiana, over 40,000 out in Texas, 51,000 in Mississippi and over 22,000 out in Virginia, according to PowerOutage.us.

Heavy rain was pouring across the South and Gulf Coast Wednesday morning into afternoon. Rivers forecast to go into major flood stage include Village Creek near Kountze, Texas, and the Sabine River at Logansport, Louisiana. 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced Wednesday that one death was reported in Scott County, and one injury in Grenada County as result of the severe weather in the state. 

He noted that preliminary reports indicate 72 homes have been either damaged or destroyed in Grenada, Hinds, Marshall, Scott, Warren, and Yazoo counties.

In New Orleans, streets have been inundated with water with flash flood warnings in place through around 4 p.m. local time in some areas of the state and a tornado watch in Orleans Parish through 4 p.m. By Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service office in New Orleans warned locals in the city metro area to not drive as “numerous roads across the metro are flooded/impassable.”

St. Tammany Parish shared footage of destruction including downed trees, and destroyed houses and buildings amid heavy rain. Earlier in the day, the parish reported a tornado on the ground in Slidell and Pearl River area.

Cities that could experience the highest risk of flash flooding Wednesday include Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama; and Pensacola, Florida.

Thirteen million people will see severe storms Wednesday across Louisiana, most of Mississippi, Alabama and western Florida Panhandle. The greatest risk is damaging straight-line wind gusts of over 75 mph followed by numerous tornadoes that could be strong. 

A tornado watch has also been issued for parts of Alabama, Florida and Georgia through 9 p.m. EDT.

An EF-1 tornado struck the Houston suburb of Katy early Wednesday with 90 mph maximum winds. While the damage survey is still ongoing, it’s consistent with an EF-1 tornado, Jeff Evans of the National Weather Service Office in Houston/Galveston told reporters.

Louisiana’s Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness warned locals to keep devices charged and stay off the roads due to severe thunderstorm warnings with destructive 80 mph winds through 8:45 a.m. CDT. 

Wednesday’s severe weather comes after there were more than 90 storm reports Tuesday, including reports of hail as large as 4.25 inches in diameter across Texas.

In Tuesday’s deluge, there were multiple reports of over 6 inches of rainfall and some isolated reports of up to 15 inches, and flood reports are starting to come in early Wednesday from rivers rising across eastern Texas.

Jasper, Texas, marked 7.58 inches of rainfall; 7.38 inches were clocked in Marshall, Texas; 7.22 inches at Big Sunflower River in Holly Bluff, Mississippi; and 6.24 inches in Monroe, Louisiana. In Kirbyville, Texas, the Pin Oak Creek rose 10 feet in less than six hours.

The Roganville Volunteer Fire Department shared footage of streets turned into rivers and submerged cars in Kirbyville early Wednesday, warning: “It’s not a good day to be on the road. Please stay at home if you don’t have to be out.”

A disaster declaration was issued for Jasper County, Texas, which covers Kirbyville, on Wednesday. The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office said the city “remains under water” Wednesday morning and rescue teams have extricated “several” people out of vehicles and homes. 

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