(Reuters) - Powerful tornadoes and large hail may batter a large swath of the southern United States on Tuesday afternoon and evening, the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast.
The NWS on Monday warned the violent storms would hit parts of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee, with heavy wind damage expected.
The NWS said the storms could produce powerful "long-track" tornadoes - twisters that stay on the ground far longer than normal tornadoes.
The severe storms are being triggered by the collision of a cold front barreling down from the Rocky Mountains and pushing across the central plains, with warmer, moist air pushing north from the Gulf of Mexico, said Andrew Orrison, an NWS meteorologist based in College Park, Maryland.
He said tornadoes with gusts of 111 miles per hour and above could break out from the lower and middle Mississippi valley area into portions of the southeast. He added there is even a chance for the most powerful twisters - with winds over 200 miles per hour - hitting the area.
(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Donna Bryson and David Gregorio)