January 10, 2020 / 8:16 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. Southern Plains could be hit by baseball-sized hail, hurricane gusts

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Baseball-sized hail, hurricane-force wind gusts and tornadoes could hit portions of the U.S. Southern Plains on Friday evening into early Saturday, forecasters said.

The fast-moving storm is causing local officials in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana to raise the alarm with residents, including advising them to securely tie down items in their yards to prevent them from becoming flying projectiles.

The same storm system will result in heavy snows and sleet elsewhere through Sunday night, the National Weather Service said.

“It’s a broad and multifaceted storm. There are winter storm warnings out for parts of the Central Plains up to the Great Lakes,” said meteorologist Bob Oravec of the National Weather Service’s Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “Late Saturday into Sunday, it will spread to New England and northern New York state.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Friday he put state agencies on alert so they can quickly respond as the storm descends on eastern Texas Friday evening, saying in a statement that boats, helicopters, rescue teams and medical strike teams are on standby across the region.

In Illinois, the Department of Transportation warned that “torrential rains, flash flooding, freezing rain, sleet and snow will impact travel tonight and this weekend throughout the state.”

Reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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