“In fact, it’s looking a little bit worse now than we thought yesterday, that threat for severe weather,” Reichmuth said.
An initial round of severe storms is forecast to move out of Texas into western Louisiana late Sunday morning, with large hail and wind damage as the initial threat. Reichmuth said that “really warm air” combined with high humidity is setting the stage for the storms.
“That’s enough moisture with the temperature that we are going to see storms start to fire early across parts of Texas and Louisiana, and then throughout the day it pulls off towards the east,” he said.
As those storms move east, tornadoes will be possible along the southern edge as the storms arrive in central Mississippi and west-central Alabama by afternoon.
The storm center said the area at the greatest risk of severe weather includes north-central Louisiana eastward to southern and central Mississippi, Alabama and isouth-central Georgia.
“That red bullseye there is the biggest threat for some large, long-lasting tornadoes that could be really destructive like we saw last week,” Reichmuth said “Same set-up in the exact same place.”
Some 5 million people in locations such as Montgomery, Ala., Jackson, Miss., and Columbus and Macon, Ga., are at risk.
Reichmuth said the severe weather threat starts earlier than the deadly outbreak on Easter Sunday but will last longer.
“It’s a long-term event with a series of storms going across the same area over a number of hours,” he said.
A swath of damaging winds and a continued tornado threat will also extend across Georgia and parts of South Carolina through Sunday night. Large hail is possible over much of the area as well, the Weather Service said.
The weather system is also bringing the threat of flooding, with the storm expected to dump several inches of rain in areas still saturated from last week.
Forecasters and governors urged people to monitor the weather and take precautions.
“As severe weather is expected this weekend, I urge everyone to stay weather aware and get a game plan. Please continue to monitor local media outlets for weather-related information and updates and heed directions from local officials,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Facebook.
The Weather Service said more than 100 tornadoes struck the South on April 12-13. Officials said at least 36 people were killed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.