Threat of Easter tornadoes in U.S. poses safety dilemma during coronavirus pandemic

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The threat of strong tornadoes and other damaging weather on Easter posed a double-edged safety dilemma for Deep South communities deciding how to protect residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

An outbreak of severe thunderstorms was likely Sunday from Louisiana through the Tennessee Valley, the National Weather Service said. More than 4.5 million people live in the area where dangerous weather was most likely, including Birmingham and Jackson, Mississippi, the Storm Prediction Center said on its website.

The National Weather Service office in Jackson told residents to brace for the possibility of long-lasting tornadoes, wind gusts up to 113 kilometres and tennis ball-size hail through Sunday evening. Waves of storms with occasional lulls could continue into early Monday, with as much as 8 centimetres of rain possible.

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“This could be one of our bigger events we’ve had in a long time around here. Take this seriously,” weather service forecaster Gary Goggins said in a public briefing broadcast on Facebook live from the agency’s Birmingham-area office on Saturday.

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Seeking protection from violent weather during the coronavirus pandemic could present a challenge for some.

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