(CNN) — A deadly winter storm in California now threatens tornadoes in the South and heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain in the Midwest.
As of 10 p.m. Miami time, more than three million people are under a tornado watch in parts of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
And tornadoes aren’t the only risk in the region. The Storm Prediction Center warned of the potential for hail and hurricane-force winds of up to 110 km/h “by late night across much of the area”.
Brad Bryant, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Shreveport, Louisiana, said anyone in tornado risk areas should seek safe shelter immediately.
“If you wait for the warning to be issued, it’s too late,” Bryant said Monday. “You must have a plan for a safe haven ahead of these storms.”
Bryant encouraged those who need assistance — especially those living in mobile homes — to contact local emergency managers or law enforcement to find out what shelter options they have.
“We’ve had three bouts of severe weather since mid-November and most of the deaths occurred in mobile homes,” Bryant said.
From Missouri to the Gulf Coast of Mexico, more than 30 million people are at risk of severe weather Monday, according to CNN meteorologist Dave Heinen.
More tornadoes and damaging winds are expected on Tuesday across parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama as the storm moves east.
Farther north, more than 15 million people from Utah to Wisconsin are under winter weather warnings on Monday.
That 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 worsen dangerous flooding.
“The journey would be dangerous if not impossible”
Rapid snowfall of 1 to 2 inches per hour is forecast across the plains and Midwest from Nebraska to southwestern Minnesota, bringing the snow total to more than 12 inches by the end of Tuesday. Avalanche may occur with thunderstorms.
“These rapid movements, combined with strong winds, will produce areas of drifting and rotating snow, resulting in snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and difficulty traveling,” the Weather Prediction Center said.
A significant build-up of ice can lead to power outages and treacherous travel conditions.
Freezing rain could produce more than a half-inch of snow Monday through Tuesday from northeastern Nebraska through northwestern Iowa to southern Minnesota.
“Travel will become hazardous, if not impossible, in many areas tonight (through Tuesday),” the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls said Monday.
More flooding could hit California this week
Northern California communities that were hit by massive flooding over the weekend could experience even more rainfall in the coming days.
It’s unclear how far the storm will make a dent in the state of drought gripping California, which had its driest start to the year in 2022 and ended with flooded roads and swollen rivers.
The weather service office in Sacramento said, “The initial rainfall forecast for the mid-week storm is about 2 to 3 inches possible in the Central Valley.”
An atmospheric river — a long, narrow region in the atmosphere that can carry moisture thousands of miles — fueled a parade of storms over the weekend, bringing record rainfall and triggering water rescues.
At least two people were killed, including one found inside a submerged vehicle in Sacramento County and a 72-year-old man killed by a falling tree in Santa Cruz Park, officials said.
Now, another atmospheric river could bring heavy rain and more flooding to northern and central California, including the Bay Area, on Wednesday.
The National Weather Service in San Francisco said that this upcoming storm “looks like it will lead to hazardous conditions.”
Officials urged residents to avoid driving in standing water.
Hwy 99 is closed between@CityofGaltand just south of Grant Line Road@CityofElkGroveThe road won’t reopen until the Cosumnes River floodwaters recede, which is expected sometime tomorrow afternoon.@CaltransHQ pic.twitter.com/TjFo670tul
— Caltrans District 3 (@CaltransDist3) January 1, 2023
Flooding from the Coomasnes River closed Highway 99 south of Elk Grove in Sacramento County, the California Department of Transportation tweeted on Sunday. “SR 99 is one of the busiest corridors in the state, and is commercially important,” its website said.
In recent days, “dozens and dozens” of people were rescued, Cosumnes Fire Department Capt. Chris Schamber told CNN affiliate KCRA. Aerial photographs of the station showed cars submerged in water up to the door handles.