The downgrade put an end to the tropical storm watches and warnings that tens of millions of Americans were living under. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch for parts of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. This includes major cities such as Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Jackson and Montgomery. The tornadoes are not expected to be large or particularly numerous.
Tornado damage has been reported in Fairfield. Stay clear of downed power lines and destroyed buildings. pic.twitter.com/WzVBLPtiwN— Alabama Red Cross (@AlabamaRedCross) June 22, 2017
Cindy is predicted to sweep through northwest Louisiana before crossing into Arkansas on Thursday night. As it moves, low pressure zones will form on its sides that could cause substantial amounts of rain in states such as Florida. The storm has grown to over 500 miles in radius, with winds as strong as 60 miles per hour near the storm's center.
Even parts of the country as far away as the Ohio Valley and the Appalachian Mountains might see rainfall as intense as eight inches.
The storm is believed to have caused at least two deaths. A man was found dead inside a truck on a Texas beach Wednesday night. Officials blamed heavy rains and winds from the storm. Earlier that day, 10-year-old Nolan McCabe was killed in Alabama by a log flung into the air by a wave.
Alabama saw a tornado in Fairfield, a small city in Birmingham's metropolitan area, less than 10 miles west of the city proper. Elsewhere in the Heart of Dixie, Mobile saw coastal flooding that closed several highways.
Perhaps most terrifyingly, Alabama officials have warned residents to watch out for floating colonies of fire ants, which can clump together into angry masses during floods. "Floodwaters will not kill fire ants," the warning reads. "Instead their colonies will emerge from the soil, form a loose ball, float and flow with the water until reaching a dry area or object. Floating colonies can look like ribbons, streamers or a ball of ants floating on the water," the warning adds. "These amoeba-like masses contain all of the colonies' members — worker ants, brood (eggs, larvae, pupae), winged reproductive males and females, and queen ants."
Winds in excess of 62 mph were measured in Cameron, Louisiana, with the sustained speed settling at 48 mph. It too saw coastal flooding, as well as storm surges of up to four feet elsewhere in the state. Roads near Lake Charles were flooded with knee-deep water, stranding motorists along the lakeshore.
New Orleans, which closed its tropical storm warning before Cindy reached the city, saw some flooded streets. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Louisiana National Guard moved high water vehicles and emergency supplies into the area.